Wednesday, 14 April 2010

CHP Report Blames Driver Fatigue for Monterey County Bus Accident

The California Highway Patrol has presented its final report into the bus accident in Soledad, Monterey County last year that killed five people, including four French tourists. There are no surprises for California bus accident lawyers in the report, which essentially blames driver fatigue as the main factor responsible for the crash.

The accident which occurred in April 2009 involved a tourist charter bus carrying mostly French passengers. The driver of the bus failed to negotiate a curve correctly On Highway 101, and the bus spun around and into a guardrail. The bus was carrying 34 French tourists and a Canadian tour guide.

The California Highway Patrol's report rules out alcohol and drug use, mechanical malfunctioning of the bus and highway conditions as possible factors in the accident. Some of the passengers on the bus had noticed that the driver seemed tired and drowsy during the journey. They however didn't express these concerns to the tour guide. The California Highway Patrol Report also found minor errors in the driver’s logbooks.

A preliminary investigation after the accident found that the driver John Egnew had been involved in a pedestrian accident in Las Vegas in 2005. He had been driving a bus that struck and seriously injured a 71-year-old woman crossing the street.

Bus driver fatigue is an often undetected factor in accidents in California. Long work hours, irregular shifts, and unhealthy lifestyles contribute to a pervasive problem of fatigue that is now only now being looked at carefully by the federal administration. A fatigued driver may be much more likely to make driving errors, or fall asleep at the wheel. Any of these can contribute to a serious accident that can result in injuries and fatalities.

One of the most ignored contributing factors in driver fatigue is sleep apnea. This is a condition in which a person may suffer from frequently interrupted breathing during sleep.

These episodes of wakefulness may last for a few seconds. An individual with a severe case of sleep apnea may just find himself waking up dozens of times during a single night. The result is drowsiness and tiredness the next day. Truck and bus drivers who are required to sit in one place for long are likely to suffer from obesity, which is one of the main contributing factors for sleep apnea.

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