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The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) says that a Fatal Bus Crash Underscores the Need for Fatigue Management Programs.

The National Transportation Safety Board has urged the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to be more aggressive in monitoring fatigue management programs due to a fatal bus crash in last year.

On May 31, 2011 at 4:55am an incident occurred because the driver fell asleep, the Board found. A Sky Express bus that was headed northbound on I-95 in Virginia flipped over after it drifted across the roadway and struck a cable barrier. Unfortunately, four passengers were killed and fourteen others were seriously injured.

After the investigation was completed, the Board found that the bus driver had been suffering from sleep loss, poor sleep quality and interruption of his heart rhythm.

“Sky Express’s failure to exercise even minimal oversight of its drivers’ rest and sleep activities enabled the drivers to drive while dangerously fatigued,” the Board said.

The Board would like for the FMSCA to implement a program to monitor and improve the safety management programs to address fatigue. This is a direct follow up on a previous recommendation that all carriers have a fatigue management program.

The Board also wants new-entrant safety audits to include a review of a structured safety management process so the new carriers will know how to identify safety risks and maintain a safety assurance program.

Sky Express passed the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration new entrant safety assurance audit despite safety shortcomings in its operation, which indicates the new entrant audit process is not always keeping unsafe carriers from entering the motor carrier industry,” the Board said.

Fatigue Management Program for North American

The Board has urged the agency to incorporate fatigue management strategies, in addition to the hours of service rules for bus drivers who work at night.

The Board has also recommended a joint FMCSA-Transport Canada project to develop a fatigue management program.

The North American Fatigue Management Program, as it is called, aims to provide carriers with a manual that would have a best-practices reference for implementing a fatigue management program in their operations.

Rebecca Brewster, president and COO of the American Transportation Research Institute stated that It has been in the works for several years and now is nearing completion. The American Trucking Associations is on the project’s steering committee.

Brewster said the project expects to launch a website by November that will provide program materials at no charge. Training and materials for drivers, dispatchers, and management, have been developed and tested by carriers in the U.S. and Canada.

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