State police blame driver fatigue for a bus crash that killed four passengers and injured dozens of others. The crash, and the bus company’s previous record, prompted federal regulators to shut down the carrier.
Kin Yiu Cheung, the driver of the Sky Express bus that overturned on Interstate 95 in Virginia on May 31, is being held on reckless driving charges. State police say their investigation ruled out mechanical failure as a cause. The driver was treated for minor injuries at the scene of the crash. There were 58 passengers on the bus.
Sky Express, based in Charlotte, NC, has had several safety issues during the past two years, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Sky Express has:
- exceeded safety thresholds in four areas: unsafe driving, fatigued driving, driver fitness and vehicle maintenance
- received 46 violations for fatigued driving since May 2009, three of them serious
- had four crashes, including one in which there was an injury or fatality
- been cited 17 times for unsafe driving, and
- been cited 14 times for using drivers who lack English-language skills.
The U.S. Department of Transportation issued an unsatisfactory safety rating to the company and has prohibited Sky Express from operating interstate transportation. The ban is indefinite.
U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) says recent crashes, including one in March involving a different bus company that killed 15 people, demonstrate the bus industry won’t take steps necessary to protect passenger safety without federal involvement.
Brown and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) had sponsored a bill that would require better training for drivers and various safety improvements to buses. The bill was poised for passage until Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) placed a hold on it. A spokesman for Coburn said the bill was costly and unnecessary.
A similar bill has been introduced this year. Coburn, referred to as “Dr. No” for his frequent holds on bill, hasn’t said whether he plans to place a hold on this one.
Do you agree with the federal government’s decision to take this bus company out of service? Is more federal government involvement necessary to improve safety among bus companies? Let us know what you think in the Comments Box below.