This past April, there was a bus crash in Albertville, Minnesota. The bus was on it’s way back from a high school four-day cultural tour of Chicago when the bus crashed at 5:45 a.m. The bus was traveling along the Highway 94 when it left the road and flipped over. Many of the students were injured and one was killed.
Following the accident, there were questions as to the cause. It was pointed out that the driver was an experienced semi driver and that there had never been a prior accident for the bus company. The driver told an investigator that he got plenty of sleep the night of Thursday, April 3 and had napped the following day before the buses departed Chicago about 10 p.m.
Recent court documents confirm that the driver told a person earlier that he was tired and that he fell asleep prior to the accident. He’s charged with criminal vehicular homicide and two other felonies. Transcripts include information from the other bus driver :
According to the court documents, Blotsky had noticed Ernst drifting toward the right shoulder of Interstate 94 at least two times. At the Menomonie rest stop, the two men talked.
According to a transcript, an investigator said: "Were you going to say anything to him (Ernst) about what you saw?"
Blotsky replied: "You know, I can’t remember because he (Ernst) asked me right off the bat, ‘Jake, was I drifting a couple of times?’ And I say, ‘Yes, you were.’ And he said, ‘Damn, I’m tired.’"
Presently, the driver awaits trial
If you are driving it is important that you be aware of fatigue signs.
WARNING SIGNS OF DROWSINESS AND FATIGUE
- can’t remember the last few miles driven
- have wandering or disconnected thoughts
- experience difficulty focusing or keeping your eyes open
- have trouble keeping your head up
- drift from lanes or hit a rumble strip
- yawn repeatedly
- tailgate or miss traffic signs
- find yourself jerking your vehicle back into lane
then you may be suffering from drowsiness or fatigue. Continuing to drive in this condition puts you at serious risk of being involved in a fatigue-related crash. You should pull over in a safe place and get some rest before resuming your trip.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO STAY ALERT WHILE DRIVING:
Sleep / Take naps: Your best bet is to get enough sleep every day. If you must stay up late, afternoon naps are a great way to get more sleep. If you feel drowsy while driving, a 15-minute nap can be very effective. Make sure to pull over in a safe place.
Caffeine: Avoid caffeine during the last half of your workday as it may contribute to sleeping problems. You can gain short-term alertness by drinking coffee or other caffeine sources if driving, but it usually takes 30 minutes to take affect and wears off after a few hours.
Regular stops: You should stop every 100 miles or 2 hours. Switch drivers if you can.
Avoid Alcohol: If you have been drinking, please don’t drive! In addition to being illegal, alcohol makes you sleepy and amplifies your fatigue.
If you are planning a long trip, AAA offers the following tips for avoiding fatigue:
- Prepare for your trip by getting a good night’s sleep the night before. Plan to drive during the time that you are normally awake, and stay overnight rather than traveling straight through.
- Avoid driving during the body’s "down time". According to AAA, this is generally in the mid-afternoon and between midnight and 6:00 a.m.
- If you have passengers, talk to them. It will help to keep you alert, and they will also be able to tell if you are showing signs of getting sleepy.
- Schedule a break every 2 hours or every 100 miles. Take a nap, stretch, take a walk and get some exercise before resuming your trip.
- Stop sooner if you show any danger signs of sleepiness.
"TRICKS" THAT DO NOT WORK
Opening the window, turning on the air conditioning, or playing loud music are not effective in keeping drivers alert for any extended period of time.
A founding partner with Bradshaw & Bryant, Mike Bryant has always fought to find justice for his clients—knowing that legal troubles, both personal injury and criminal, can be devastating for a family. Voted a Top 40 Personal Injury "Super Lawyer" multiple years, Mr. Bryant has also been voted one of the Top 100 Minnesota "Super Lawyers" four times.