Officials tighten rules for bus companies year after fatal wreck

by: Mark Becker Updated:

Bus Investigation
CHARLOTTE, N.C. —

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A year and a half after a fatal bus wreck, federal safety officials are tightening the rules for bus companies with serious violations.

It was a sleepy driver who federal investigators say was behind the wheel of a charter bus that went off the road in Virginia last May, killing four people and injuring many others.

Sky Express, which had operated out of Charlotte, had been cited for safety violations before and was only operating because it had gotten a 10-day extension to fix the problems.

Now the Department of Transportation has stopped giving those extensions.

"I think it's a great idea. If you have that serious a violation you need to shut down," said a driver who has been working on charter buses for 40 years.

He said there is often pressure for drivers to stay behind the wheel longer than they should, and he worries that some companies and drivers will still try to find a way around the regulations.

"As a driver I have to be cautious of the hours I drive when I drive. If I'm not aware of it or if I'm asked or forced to drive at a time I'm not, it can be dangerous," he said.