Tour Bus Drivers Subject to Federal Hours of Service RulesJune 13, 2018 | Category: Personal Injury | Share
As we enter the summer vacation period for students across the country, many plan trips which include tour buses. When making plans, prospective tourists believe that, with a professional driver behind the wheel, they will be able to enjoy the sites and socialize with others rather than focusing on driving. Tour bus drivers are subject to the federal hours of service rules, and when they do not adhere to them, serious accidents may be the result.
Although it was not known what actually caused the chartered tour bus accident on March 13, 2018, hours of service were reaching the limit said authorities. There were dozens of students and adult chaperones hospitalized after their tour bus was returning from a trip to Disney World in Orlando and plunged down a 50-foot ravine on Interstate 10. The driver died at the scene, according to USA Today.
The lead NTSB (National Traffic Safety Board) investigator, Peter Kotowski, says a high school band left Orlando Monday night around 10:00. At the time of the crash, the driver had been driving for almost 9 hours and was scheduled to meet his relief driver. (Federal requirements allow bus drivers to drive for 10 hours and on duty for 14 hours before being relieved.)
Tour bus accident statistics
The Department of Transportation (DOT) statistics show there have been 130 fatal crashes in the U.S. involving charter tour buses since 2012. The majority of tour bus accidents are caused by driver fatigue, driving violations, mechanical failures, faulty brakes, faulty tire pressure, defective tires, and inadequate inspections.
Federal hours of service rule
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), Section 395.5 of the FMCSA Carrier Act, drivers of passenger-carrying commercial motor vehicles are subject to limitations on the number of hours they can drive. They cannot drive more than 10 consecutive hours.
FMCSA requirements for bus companies
According to the FMCSA, for-hire bus companies must obtain operating authority from the FMCSA in order to provide interstate passenger transportation.
The FMCSA has the following requirements for Owner/Operators:
- Drivers must possess a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) with a passenger endorsement.
- Company must have a drug and alcohol-testing program in place.
- Drivers are subject to limitations on the number of consecutive hours they can drive.
- Buses must be systematically inspected, repaired, and maintained.
Liability of bus companies (common carriers) in the event of an accident
Common carriers include those vehicles which are private charter buses, tour buses, school buses, city buses, county buses and other commercial buses and passenger vans under Florida and Federal laws. In order for a common carrier to operate, they must adhere to certain industry-specific regulations implemented to protect the general public. They have a high duty of care to keep their passengers safe. Bus drivers are expected to stop at a reasonably safe place for passengers, obey all traffic laws, and not make dangerous maneuvers.
Should a driver’s negligence lead to an accident, any injured passenger may sue for damages. The common carriers must provide safe buses and hire only properly licensed drivers who meet basic requirements. Should they not, they may be proven negligent.
“If you or a loved one has been injured in a tour bus or motor coach accident, contact the experienced legal team at Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A. to determine your rights,” said Naples Personal Injury Lawyer Randall Spivey.
Naples Personal Injury Lawyer, Randall L. Spivey is a Board Certified Trial Attorney – the highest recognition for competence bestowed by the Florida Bar and a distinction earned by just one (1%) percent of Florida attorneys. He has handled over 2,000 personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout Florida. For a free and confidential consultation to discuss your legal rights, contact the Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A., in Lee County at 239.337.7483 or toll free at 1.888.477.4839,or by email to Randall@SpiveyLaw.com. Visit SpiveyLaw.com for more information. You can contact Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A.in Charlotte County at 941.764.7748 and in Collier County 239.793.7748.