Two survivors of a recent tour bus accident have filed a negligence lawsuit against the tour bus company. The parties allege that the driver hired by the company violated Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) safety regulations limiting the number of hours commercial drivers may be behind the wheel without rest, that the driver failed to pay attention to warnings, and that he drove too fast for conditions on a notoriously dangerous patch of roadway. Nine passengers died and 38 people were injured in this tragic bus accident.
According to the negligence lawsuit, the bus driver doubled as a tour guide and worked at least 90 hours without relief over the first eight days of the nine-day tour package, a violation of U.S. regulations that limit drivers to 70 hours in an eight-day span.
The FMCSA provides certain guidelines aimed at making our roadways safer and preventing commercial vehicle accidents such as ones involving big rigs and buses. According to the FMCSA, commercial truck and bus drivers may drive a maximum of 11 hours in any 14-hour period. 10 hours must pass before the truck driver can get behind the wheel again. Further, commercial bus and truck drivers are allowed to drive no more than 60 hours in a 7-day period, or 70 hours in any 8-day period.
The trip started in Vancouver, British Columbia, and went through Southern California, Las Vegas and Grand Canyon National Park before heading north to Boise, Idaho. On the ninth and final day of the tour, the bus departed a Boise hotel at 7:30 a.m. and travelled 203 miles in a little more than three hours before plunging through a guardrail and 200 feet down an embankment.
While the bus crash remains under investigation, several details have been provided. The crash happened during a cold, overcast morning on a flat and straight stretch of the highway, just before an infamous downgrade known as Cabbage Hill. A truck had applied sand to the icy road a few hours before the crash and was behind the bus making another run when tragedy struck.
The posted speed limit is 65 mph for cars and 55 mph for trucks and buses. Police have not said how fast the bus was travelling or if driver fatigue was an issue.
Conflicting reports exist concerning whether the bus driver was aware of the icy conditions. A spokesperson for the Oregon Department of Transportation stated that the last warning the driver would have seen was a warning to stay sober. The lawsuit, on the other hand, asserts that the bus driver had knowledge of the dangerous conditions of the roadway and was driving too fast given the conditions, whether or not the speed limit was exceeded.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of two foreign exchange students from South Korea who are studying in Tacoma, Wash. One of the students fainted and another was knocked unconscious during the crash. Both were hospitalized for about eight hours.
For more information about bus accidents or if you or a loved one has been injured in a bus or truck crash, please contact a skilled Sacramento bus accident lawyer and personal injury lawyer at Sette Law Office for an immediate consultation.