“Bus Lag” Series: Einstein’s Fourth Salvo on Amending Motorcoach Hours-of-Service Regulations

In his fourth installment about “Bus Lag” in National Bus Trader magazine, Transportation Alternatives President Ned Einstein explored the problem whereby many drivers are assigned effectively to “double trips,” and upon completing the first one, simply discard the logs for their first trip. Like many such drivers who end up causing catastrophic accidents, this installment’s driver began his second trip (now that his initial trip was a secret), and less than an hour into it – during only his sixth hour of driving, and in his 10th hour on duty — plowed into a car stalled on the freeway at 68 mph – and miraculously did not kill the motorist standing in front of it trying to refasten a hood latch that had popped open. Even more fascinating about this particular trip, if the driver had completed it, it would actually have been compliant with the Hours-of-Service Regulations: The pair of trips together appeared to add up to only about 10 hours of driving in a 14 ½-hour span. Of course, with the first log discarded, it was really impossible to know the full length of these combined trips. 

It is hard to know how many trips of this kind occur, because the evidence of the first segment of them is usually destroyed immediately. And many “double trips” are considerably longer than this one – and this driver’s previous day’s trip may have been, since he fell asleep at the wheel on this trip only about 8:30 PM after driving for fewer than six hours, with two rest stops. But this incident  points out the fact that our current regulations are a total failure in catching these violators: If and when a law enforcement officer is lucky to stop a driver in his or her first trip segment, nothing will be inappropriate, and that driver will simply request a substitute to drive the return segment, which would generally be illegal.

The article about this accident may be viewed in its entirety at www.transalt.com – scroll down on the Home page to “Articles and Publications buy Ned Einstein,” click, and scroll to the link titled “Bus Lag, Part 4: The Invisible Log, Redux” or read it, in hard-copy form in the December, 2014 issue of National Bus Trader magazine soon to be released.

This article involves a number of themes or topics that often combine to contribute to bus lag:

  • Motorcoach operations
  • Charter service
  • Route and Schedule Design
  • Use of Manual Driver’s Logs
  • Driver assignment
  • Driver/motorist fatigue
  • Management
  • Operations
  • Regulations
  • Fatigue and Catastrophic Accidents
  • Vehicle-to-Vehicle collisions

A short essay about “Fatigue and Catastrophic Accidents” may be viewed at www.transalt.com: Click on the link “Common Accident and Incident Scenarios” on the Home Page, scroll down to the link titled “Fatigue and Catastrophic Accidents” (or enter http://www.transalt.com/content/fatigue-and-catastrophic-accidents).