Imagine a city bus full of passengers heading down a busy city street. The bus driver slumps over in his seat. The bus blows through a red light and T-bones a car, sending it spinning around in the street. Just like in the movies, the bus keeps crashing into cars and taxis as it careens through intersections. This scenario happened in New York City last night. The driver lost consciousness while going north on Madison Avenue near East 81st at around 7:05 p.m.
A frightened but quick thinking passenger, Guy Praisler, rushed to the front of the bus, jerked at the driver and grabbed the wheel. The driver then woke-up and hit the brakes.
Really?? Now the bus driver claims to have fainted. As someone who has investigated dozens of bus and truck crashes, this sounds like a classic case of a fatigued bus driver falling asleep behind the wheel. The statistics would certainly indicate that fatigue is the most likely cause of this crash.
Approximately 20% of fatal road accidents involve driver fatigue, and about 30% of severe single vehicle crashes in rural areas involve the driver being fatigued.
Truck and bus drivers are particularly prone to fatigue because of the long hours they have to stay behind the wheel. Most bus and truck companies have in-house programs that train drivers how to properly deal with fatigue. Sleep experts say the safest way to deal with fatigue is to stop what you are doing and get some sleep. Bus drivers do not have the same ability as truck drivers, however, to simply pull off the road and take a power nap. Bus passengers probably would not understand that approach to fatigue, especially in New York City.
Since 20 people reported injuries from the various crashes, the New York City will be facing injury claims and more intense scrutiny of its bus safety programs.
Attorney Brian Davis, at Davis Law Group, would be glad to answer any questions you might have regarding bus or truck safety. Mr. Davis speaks to local and national advocacy and civic groups about motor vehicle safety issues on a regular basis.