Readers in the Billings area are likely aware the dangers associated with driver fatigue. But when the driver of a truck or other large commercial vehicle is too tired to be behind the wheel, the risk of serious personal injury is increased exponentially. Sometimes the results of an investigation determine that the fatigued driver’s conduct was negligent, and that means anyone injured in the accident is entitled to pursue compensation for damages.

Montana residents will be interested in the investigation of one recent bus accident that killed 15 passengers and left seven others seriously injured. This incident is one among several demonstrating that bus companies are failing to observe safety regulations. In particular, companies are failing to monitor driver logs.

People who witnessed the crash reported seeing the bus drift onto the shoulder of the highway minutes before it flipped onto its side and skidded into a signpost. The signpost sheared through the roof of the bus and instantly killed several sleeping passengers. The investigation revealed not only a negligent bus driver, but also potential negligence on the parts of the bus company and the state highway department.

Investigators determined that the bus driver had spent much of his off-time by talking on his cell phone instead of taking opportunities to rest. It was also found that the bus company did not implement adequate safety measures and failed to comply with its own requirement of keeping a log of the driver’s activities. In addition, it was concluded that the state highway department did not install a guardrail strong enough to withstand the impact of a large commercial vehicle.

Although this accident happened in New York, it comes in the wake of investigations that resulted in the shut-down of 26 different bus companies found to have ignored safety regulations across the country. Montana residents who have been injured or lost a loved one in a bus accident should be aware of their rights for holding the responsible parties accountable.

Source: New York Times, “Driver Fatigue and Speed Caused Fatal Bus Crash, Investigators Say,” Patrick McGeehan, June 5, 2012