By now, many Bay Area readers have heard about the fatal bus accident that occurred earlier this week. According to news reports, a Greyhound bus on its way from Los Angeles to the Bay Area rolled over on a stretch of highway near San Jose. Two people were killed and several others were seriously injured.
The bus accident is still under investigation, and the cause has yet to be determined. According to some passengers aboard the bus, however, it’s possible that the driver was drowsy and fell asleep. Passengers say the driver stopped for coffee about 30 miles before the crash. He also allegedly pulled over shortly before the crash in an apparent attempt to wake himself up.
Although drowsy driving has not been confirmed as the cause of the crash, it is nonetheless an important safety issue to discuss. According to the National Sleep Foundation, driving while drowsy can be as dangerous as drunk driving – and for many of the same reasons. Fatigue behind the wheel leads to:
- Decreased awareness of what’s around you
- Slower reaction time
- Impaired judgment
- The risk that you may briefly lose consciousness
The NSF also notes that while fatigue could affect any driver, shift workers are especially likely to experience fatigue. A shift worker is someone who’s regular work hours move around, or someone who tends to work a lot of overnight shifts. Drivers of motor coaches (like the one in this crash) often have rotating schedules that include overnight shifts.
There are still many details of the Greyhound crash that the authorities do not know – including the precise cause. But this incident nonetheless serves as an opportunity to remind readers that drowsy driving is not merely a nuisance on the road. It can be downright fatal. Please keep this in mind if you ever find yourself feeling too tired to drive safely.