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undefinedLack of sleep is the leading factor contributing to bus driver accidents and traffic violations. The only tried and true method to combat fatigue is sleep. Fleet managers must ensure their bus drivers have enough off-duty time to conduct personal business and get seven to nine hours of sleep per night.

All truck and bus driver fleets must have a fatigue risk management system (FRMS). Fleet managers and supervisors must ensure drivers use the FRMS to promote driver alertness. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), “…one in five fatal crashes in the general population involve driver fatigue.”

Simply adhering to the DOT FMCSA hours-of-service (HOS) rules will not guarantee that your drivers will be less fatigued. Fleet managers should familiarize their drivers with risk factors that increase fatigue.   

What Factors Lead to Driver Fatigue?

The factors contributing to fatigue differ between bus drivers, just like any other profession. However, drivers who maintain a rigid schedule of work and sleep usually have less trouble dealing with fatigue. Fatigue is your body’s signal to you that it needs rest and quality sleep.

When driving, if you notice any of the following, you need sleep:

  • Nodding off
  • Slowed reactions to other drivers, pedestrians, or road conditions.
  • Drifting out of your lane.
  • Experiencing tunnel vision.
  • When you forget the last few miles driven.

Although there are other symptoms, these are the most common and should signal you to take a break. Stop the bus, get another driver or take a 15 to 20-minute nap, some fresh air and a hot beverage. 

There is no alternative for sleep. No amount of coffee, fresh air, or loud music will keep a sleepy driver awake. A tired bus driver is not less motivated or less professional than another driver; they are just tired. A more experienced driver is not more aware or less fatigued; they’re just more experienced. They can still get drowsy after too many hours behind the wheel. The glare of lights from other traffic and too many hours behind the wheel will increase the driver's fatigue. The only answer is off-duty time to sleep. 

Long commutes from work to home reduce the number of hours for personal time with family and thus shorten the time remaining for sleep.     

The DOT FMCSA HOS Rules for Passenger Bus Drivers Coach & Charter

The DOT HOS rules for commercial bus drivers, such as coach or charter buses, are:

  • A maximum of ten hours driving after an eight-hour off-duty period.
  • A bus driver may not drive after 15 hours of work. However, off-duty time can be subtracted.
  • A passenger carrier may drive up to 60 hours in a seven-day period or 70 hours in an eight-day period.
  • A driver using a sleeper berth must take eight hours in the sleeper berth but can split that time in two, as long as each period is at least two hours.
  • “Adverse driving conditions” can add two hours to the 10-hour driving and 15-hour workday.
  • Bus drivers who work within a 150-air-mile radius and work no more than 14 hours are exempt from these HOS rules as long as they start and finish each day within the 150-air-mile radius.

When accused of breaking the DOT FMCSA HOS rules, you need an experienced and knowledgeable law office who regularly handles clients with tickets in the Los Angeles (LA) Traffic Court system to protect your commercial driver’s license.   

Contact Bigger & Harman for a Free Consultation About the FMCSA HOS Rules

Call Bigger & Harman at (661) 349-9300 set up a free, no-obligation consultation when accused of violating the DOT FMCSA HOS rules. 

Use the convenient online contact form or send us an email

Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.


The DMV Portal CA Commercial Driver Handbook Copyright 2022.

The NIOSH articleBehind the Wheel at Work.

The DOT FMCSA, Summary of Hours of Service Regulations.
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