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Deadly Illinois Greyhound Bus Accident Puts New Focus on Fatigued Commercial Driving

Greyhound Bus Accidents & Fatigued Driving | Zehl & Associates

Greyhound Has Known Company has Problem with Fatigued Bus Drivers for 20 Years

Fatigue is a known danger on the roads, and it’s more likely to cause bus accidents with night driving and sleep “imbalance.” That’s not just what regulators and safety experts say. That’s according to Greyhound’s own studies, its internal company documents, and its guidance for its drivers. And those items may be more relevant than ever after the recent Greyhound bus accident in Southern Illinois. That’s because many are now asking questions about what Greyhound could or should have done to prevent accidents like these.

Now, decades-old materials are in the spotlight, showing what Greyhound has known about the dangers of fatigued driving. 

Our undefeated bus accident attorneys have used these resources to prove bus driver fatigue and win multi-million-dollar verdicts and settlements for folks just like you year after year. 

Our Undefeated Bus Accident Lawyers Don’t Just Win Against Greyhound — We Set Records

Our undefeated record includes the largest recovery in Greyhound’s history – an $18.8 million verdict. Our verdict was the #1 largest verdict ever awarded in Greyhound’s corporate history.

Injured in a Greyhound accident caused by a fatigued driver?

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Our bus accident lawyers have successfully represented over 100 Greyhound bus accident victims, winning: 

  • An $18.8 million verdict for the victims of a Greyhound bus accident: In this case, the bus driver lost control of the Greyhound bus, crashing and causing the victims to suffer serious head, neck, and back injuries.
  • An $11 million settlement for victims who were hurt when a drunk Greyhound driver flipped the bus: Like fatigue, intoxication is another type of impairment that is 100% preventable.
  • A $9 million settlement for a victim hurt in a Greyhound bus accident caused by a fatigued driver: In this case, the tired bus driver flipped the bus after plowing through a fence and a tree.

Our Bus Accident Lawyers in the News about Fatigue in Commercial Bus and Truck Drivers: Our undefeated bus accident lawyers were interviewed on the CBS Morning Show to talk about the first ever court-ordered sleep study requiring a Greyhound driver to undergo an overnight sleep study. The study confirmed, as we suspected, that the driver was suffering from Obstructive Sleep Apnea and never should have been on the road.

Given our experience against Greyhound and other large commercial transportation companies, our bus accident attorneys have a deep understanding of what fatigued driving looks like, how it causes wrecks, and how to prove it in and outside the courtroom. 

That’s why we’re taking a closer look at the following:

  1. What Greyhound knows and has stated about bus driver fatigue: Company materials going back decades show that safety leaders at Greyhound have known about fatigued driving dangers and how to curb them. That includes a 2002 company memo, Alertness Management Program materials, and more
  2. What Greyhound has done or failed to do to stop fatigue driver bus accidents: Despite having so much information about the risks of bus driver fatigue, tired Greyhound drivers are still causing crashes. Our undefeated bus accident lawyers have been devoted to finding out why and fighting to prove fatigue and fault.
  3. What victims can do to fight back and assert their rights: Taking legal action can force Greyhound to pay for the harm caused by fatigue driver bus accidents.

Greyhound Warns Bus Drivers About Risks of Fatigue Back in 2002

“Sleep Balance Affects Your Alertness” — that’s the title of a Greyhound document sent out 21 years ago to warn drivers about the dangers of fatigue. In January 2002, Greyhound’s Director of Safety sent out a company-wide bulletin to explain that: 

  1. Sleep deprivation can affect alertness: The safety memo didn’t just state the obvious here; it also pointed out how sleep deprivation can build up to a “sleep debt” that can only be offset by “long sleep acts.”
  2. Bus drivers have a responsibility to rest before working: In fact, Greyhound says that “drivers need to make wise decisions,” so they get enough rest while they’re off work. It also says that “proper” rest means resting “within at least six hours of starting work.” Without this rest, drivers are more like to fall asleep while driving, “particularly toward the end of the run.”
  3. Fatigue can be a bigger problem during early morning and early afternoon shifts: Most drivers (and folks in general) are more vulnerable to fatigue from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. and from 1 pm. to 3 p.m. That’s especially true with a lack of rest, and Greyhound make sure to tell its drivers about this risk back in 2002.
  4. Drivers should ask for time off if they don’t have enough rest: In other words, Greyhound recommends that bus drivers don’t work if they’re “not properly rested.”  

This memo kicked off a series of Greyhound reports and studies on fatigue, including a partnership and program with “Alertness Solutions.” 

Greyhound Starts New Program in 2003 to Address Fatigue-Related Bus Crashes 

Bus driver fatigue didn’t disappear from the Greyhound safety agenda after 2002. The next year, Greyhound partnered with Alertness Solutions, a consulting firm led by scientists who oversaw the Fatigue Countermeasures Program at NASA. Together, the two companies created and rolled out a new training program, known as the Alertness Management Program (AMP).

The goals of this Program were to “further improve the safety margin and promote greater job satisfaction” at Greyhound and to “reduce fatigue, improve safety and enhance quality of life on and off duty.” To that end, the training explained that fatigued and drowsiness mean “you are seconds away from sleep” and that they’re “the last step before falling asleep, not the first.”

After sharing that key definition, the Alertness Management Program used group discussions, self-evaluations, group exercises, and take-home materials to walk Greyhound drivers and staff through important issues, like: 

  • The signs of fatigue: Heavy eyes, drowsiness, and irritability were a few of the 16 different fatigue symptoms pointed out in the AMP training program. Equally important, the Program also noted how people tend to not be “good judges of their own level of alertness” because they usually “underestimate the level of their fatigue.”
  • The causes of fatigue: Lack of sleep isn’t the only reason tired bus drivers end up on the roads. Greyhound’s own training explained how sleep disorders, medications, body clock disruptions, and alcohol can all play a role in bus driver fatigue.
  • Body clock disruptions: Changing work and sleep schedules can make fatigue worse and “have a significant negative effect on human performance,” affecting “judgment, memory, communication, reaction time, attention, motivation, and learning.” That can “critically affect performance and safety.”
  • The dangers of fatigued driving: Fatigued drivers cause more traffic crashes than drunk drivers and drugged drivers. That’s according to Greyhound’s training, which also noted that fatigue is usually a factor in distracted driving accidents — and that the statistics on fatigue driving accidents “are a considerable underestimation, partly because many fatigue-related crashes are attributed to other causes such as inattention or other mental lapses.”  
  • Shared responsibilities: Managing fatigue is “a shared responsibility” at Greyhound that includes “all involved parties.” 

Sleep Consulting Company’s Recommendations to Greyhound to Address Issue of Fatigued Driving

The Alertness Management Program also focused on what bus drivers can do to stay alert and avoid driving while fatigued. That meant both group discussions and exercises centered on many “Actions for Driving Alert,” including:

  1. Self-evaluation: Drivers were taught how to use the “Epworth Sleepiness Scale” (ESS) to “help determine general levels of sleepiness.” This Scale gave drivers a way to “score” their alertness or fatigue with numbers. Six and under mean “tired” while 7 and 8 are “average” (and could use more rest). Nine and above mean “rested.”
  2. Sleep: Greyhound drivers looked at sleep myths and the body’s real need for sleep. They also learned about sleep disorders (like sleep apnea), the effects of sleep loss, and how to “reliably know” their alertness levels.
  3. Body clock: Drivers on night runs “must get plenty of sleep beforehand,” and keeping a “daily sleep/wake pattern” is critical to getting enough “sleep even when the driver is off duty.” The training dove into circadian rhythms (our natural “body clocks”) to explain how we “are basically programmed to be awake during the day and to sleep at night.” As a result, people tend to feel “maximum sleepiness” between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m., as well as 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. When the body clock goes “out of sync with the environment,” something called “circadian desynchronization” happens. That body clock disruption can cause “degraded performance” and fatigue on the job. In fact, “studies with shift works indicate 75% of night workers experience sleepiness while on shift and 20% report falling asleep.”
  4. Naps: Naps are recommended for fatigued drivers but with caution “when using unplanned naps.” That warning was about sleep inertia or that groggy feeling after waking up. Napping for more than 45 minutes can cause sleep inertia. So, shorter naps are “more appropriate when one needs to drive soon after the nap.”
  5. Caffeine: The most effective use of caffeine isn’t during a shift, according to experts. Greyhound drivers learned how to “strategically” use caffeine “in anticipation of periods of decreased alertness.” As useful as caffeine can be, however, it’s not a long-term solution, the training noted. It can be a “short-term boost,” with “possible adverse physical effects.” And it “does NOT address underlying issues of sleep need.”
  6. Activity breaks: A little activity can be another short-term boost to alertness, and that can include something as quick as “walking around for 7 minutes.”

Other “Actions for Alert Driving,” according to Greyhound’s training, were tips, habits, and advice related to:

  • Exercise
  • Diet
  • Light
  • Short-term actions
  • Other issues
  • Family involvement

It’s important to note how Greyhound combined on-duty and off-duty tips and strategies in its 2003 training program to tackle the problem of bus driver fatigue. Tragically, none of that has been the antidote to fatigued driving bus accidents, including ones with tired Greyhound drivers at the wheel.

If you or a loved one were injured in a Greyhound bus accident, it’s difficult to determine if a fatigued driver or Greyhound was to blame.

Our undefeated bus accident lawyers can help. We know what to look for, how to prove it, and, most importantly, how to win.

Call 1-888-603-3636 or Click Here to send us a confidential email through our Contact Form

Greyhound Studies Fatigue, Night Driving and Inverted Sleep Schedules of Drivers

Greyhound worked with Alertness Solutions outside of the AMP, running a study from March 2004 to February 2005 to look at how night driving and day/night schedule changes are related to bus driver fatigue. 

This study used Alertness Metrics Technology (AMT) to measure driver alertness and performance in a group of 16 that included: 

  • 7 Night run drivers
  • 9 extra board drivers, meaning those available to fill shifts and with no set day or night shifts
  • The use of wearables to track reaction times, sleep quality, and sleep quantity
  • 7 to 9 days of collecting data, with a mix of workdays and off-work days

The findings showed that: 

  • Extra board drivers tended to sleep more than bus drivers on routine night runs. 
  • Night drivers tend to build up about twice as much “sleep debt” as extra board drivers. 
  • Extra board drivers tend to make sleep a priority because they have unpredictable schedules. 
  • All drivers were affected by their internal body clocks (circadian rhythms), showing clear “performance vulnerabilities” at certain times of the day.

With that, Greyhound did point out how its driver education had been “extensively updated” and that there are some “unavoidable circadian vulnerabilities” that can affect drivers’ alertness and overall safety on the roads too.

Greyhound Bus Driver Fatigue Training Program Updated in 2006

The Alertness Management Program at Greyhound “did contain some scientifically valid and important information for fatigue education but [it] can clearly be improved, according to Alertness Solutions a few years after the AMP was started.

Those updates, detailed in a 2006 Activities and Outcomes Summary Report, included: 

  1. New educational information for the driver training 
  2. A training instructor’s guide with detailed notes for each part of the training
  3. Many exercises to include in the training to keep it interactive and meaningful
  4. A 13-page “driver’s resource handout” that recapped the training, so drivers could easily refer to it later
  5. Before and after training quizzes to see how much drivers learned in the training

At the time, Alertness Solutions explained that “Greyhound’s guidelines and actual practices reflect the extensive scientific knowledge regarding alertness and performance.” Greyhound’s AMP was also applauded, with Alertness Solutions noting that the AMP approach should be a “benchmark” for the transportation industry. 

That applause does nothing for those hurt in Greyhound bus accidents caused by fatigued drivers. When that happens, our undefeated Greyhound bus accident lawyers will be ready to help you seek the maximum compensation available. 

Call 1-888-603-3636 or Click Here to send us a confidential email through our Contact Form

More Greyhound Guidance on Fatigue and Tips for Bus Drivers

Since 2006, Greyhound leaders and their partners have released many documents and bulletins on fatigue, its dangers, and how to drive safer to prevent wrecks. That includes: 

  • A 2010 Bulletin, entitled, “Adequate Rest Will Help You Stay Alert On the Road”: This bulletin shared the signs of drowsiness again while also sharing foods to avoid (because they include Tryptophan, a chemical that can cause sleepiness).
  • A March 2011 Bulletin, entitled, “Safe Driving and You”: This company document called out many types of dangerous driving, including fatigued driving. In fact, it stated, “Fatigued can cause the driver to miss road signs, wander out of traffic lanes, bypass an exit, and even experience short bouts of micro-sleep.” That can last “only a second or two,” but it’s enough to cause “serious injuries or deadly collision,” Greyhound warned.
  • A June 2011 Bulletin, entitled, “FATIGUE”: Again focusing only on fatigue, this safety bulletin reminded bus drivers and others of the signs of fatigue while advising them to “not continue driving” if they “have any of these symptoms or signs.” It also stated in large bold print, “Don’t Drive Fatigued or Impaired — Your Life and Future Depends [sic] on It.”
  • A September 2011 Bulletin, entitled, “Driver Alertness & Fatigue”: Greyhound, again, advised drivers to “not accept a driving assignment” if they haven’t had “adequate rest” and to “inform a supervisor” or “book off.” Safety leaders at Greyhound also told drivers to “stop your bus in a safe location” if they ever have “any problems staying alert” on the roads.
  • A January 2021 Safety Policy, entitled, “Prepared for Work”: Here, Greyhound noted that drivers aren’t allowed to “bid” on any “run that is greater than 15 hours,” once again trying to address the problem of fatigued driving and bus accidents.
  • A June 2012 Bulletin, entitled, “Doing the Right Thing Means Getting Adequate Rest”: This announcement shared similar tips and advice as bulletins before it but played to drivers’ sense of doing the right thing and tying that to their responsibility to get enough rest and only drive when alert.
  • A December 2012 Bulletin, entitled, “FATIGUE”: This one was pretty much the same as the June 2011 Bulletin of the same name, with a slight update to give it a holiday theme.

Many other bulletins, brochures, and training materials have followed — and not one of them has stopped fatigued driving bus accidents, injuries, and deaths, like the:

Our undefeated bus accident lawyers have represented over 100 Greyhound bus accident victims and recovered the largest verdicts and settlements in history.

We’re the bus accident attorneys who victims turn to when it’s time for answers, support, winning, and the maximum compensation.

Undefeated Bus Accident Lawyers with the Largest Wins in History: Call 1-888-603-3636

Our bus accident attorneys are regularly consulted by the media and other lawyers after serious crashes, sharing answers when it matters most. Recently, firm founder and Managing Partner Ryan Zehl spoke with KMOV-4 in St. Louis about the Greyhound bus accident in Southern Illinois, explaining:

“We expect companies to make sure that fatigued drivers, impaired drivers, intoxicated drivers aren’t behind the wheel of a bus or other commercial vehicleIt shouldn’t be incumbent on a passenger to investigate whether their driver is fully rested and capable of safely operating the vehicle. We have to rely on Greyhound to do that, and I just don’t think it’s happening.”

Will Greyhound do more to prevent fatigued driving bus accidents in the future? There’s no telling.

What is certain is that bus accident victims can count on our undefeated Greyhound bus accident lawyers when it matters most. We fight, we win — and we set records.

Call 1-888-603-3636 or Click Here to send us a confidential email

We’ll answer your questions, explain your rights, and make sure that you have all the information you need to decide what’s best for you and your family.

All consultations free, and you won’t pay us a dime unless we win your case.