On Monday, Nov. 13, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued a news release criticizing the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for failing to keep fatigued and unsafe commercial drivers off the roads.

The statement coincided with the release of the NTSB accident report for a drowsy driving-related crash that took place Aug. 2, 2016, near Livingston, California, in which a motor coach driver veered of the road, striking a road sign and roadside barrier, killing four of a total of 24 passengers onboard. The crash was especially deadly because the vertical highway signpost pierced the motorcoach interior from the front stairwell for almost the entire length of the vehicle.

The NTSB determined that the probable cause of the crash was driver fatigue resulting from acute sleep loss and circadian factors. The investigation found that the motor coach driver had slept for merely four hours during a period of 40 hours preceding the crash.

In a statement from the NTSB, Chairman Robert Sumwalt called for greater oversight from the FMCSA.

“Here’s yet another fatal crash involving both a motor coach carrier with a starkly evident history of safety problems and a severely fatigued driver,” he said. “It’s time that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration move more aggressively to keep these unsafe carriers off American roadways.”

The NTSB recommended that the FMCSA incorporate scientifically based fatigue mitigation strategies into the hours-of-service regulations for passenger-carrying drivers who operate during nighttime hours. For example, the NTSB noted that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has reduced the maximum flight duty period during nighttime hours.

The AASM urges its members to Take Action to mitigate the dangers of the nation’s drowsy driving epidemic. For a further discussion on drowsy driving and sleep’s impact on transportation safety, please contact AASM advocacy staff at (630) 737-9700.