FMCSA’s lack of oversight contributed to crash: NTSB

WASHINGTON, DC –  The United States National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) says the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) needs to crack down on motor carriers after a fatal crash in California.

A recent NTSB report found the driver of a motorcoach that crashed on a California highway in the early-morning hours on Aug. 2, 2016, killing four passengers, was sleep deprived.

Investigators determined that the driver was suffering from acute sleep loss, having been given the chance to sleep for only five hours in the previous 40. The company he worked for failed eight of 29 federal inspections in just under two years, pushing their out-of-service rate to 38%, almost five times greater than the national average.

The NTSB says the FMCSA’s lack of oversight contributed to the crash and is calling on them to change their motor carrier safety rating system to ensure carriers with serious safety issues either mitigate those risks or be placed out of service.

“It’s time that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration move more aggressively to keep these unsafe carriers off American roadways,” said NTSB chairman Robert L. Sumwalt.

The report cited two other early-morning fatal crashes involving sleep-deprived drivers and said those driving during early morning hours, when human performance is often degraded, present a unique risk to safety.  To address that risk the NTSB recommended the FMCSA incorporate scientifically based fatigue mitigation strategies into Hours of Service regulations for passenger-carrying drivers operating overnight.

The NTSB also recommended developing risk-based guidelines to determine where high-performance barrier systems should be installed to shield heavy vehicles, such as motorcoaches, from roadside obstacles and hazards.

The full report from the NTSB can be read here.

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