November 16, 2011
Lives have been lost in the Bronx, in Virginia, in Upstate New York as sleep-deprived intercity bus drivers cause their buses to careen into other drivers and off the road.
The National Transportation Safety Board’s report commissioned by Senator Schumer and Representative Velazquez is the latest in a string of wake-up calls, said Lawrence J. Hanley with the Huffington Post.
Their leadership on this issue so far has been admirable, but not yet enough has been done. Congress needs to focus on ensuring driver fatigue is addressed in bus reform proposals.
Focused on seat belts, vehicle structure, and unsafe bus owners, the Motor Coach Enhanced Safety Act of 2011 passed by Congress does nothing to combat drivers who get behind the wheel with little or no sleep.
Due to an outdated loophole, intercity bus operators do not get overtime pay. They are exempt from overtime rules under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which is not fair to intercity bus drivers.
Congress and the Administration need to realize what a danger these drivers are on our roads, a danger to themselves, their passengers, and other drivers. Lifting the FLSA overtime pay exemption is a start. Then bus drivers can be fairly compensated for their work exceeding 40hours.
Not only is this the right thing to do, but it is the safe thing to do for all of us who travel on the roads.