Tour Bus Drivers Adhere to Federal Regulations

October 11, 2004--posted at 6:22 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO - In light of this weekend's I-55 bus accident, federal investigators will be looking at whether or not the bus driver had gotten enough rest.

Bob Patterson of Great Southern, a Jonesboro based tour company, has been taking groups of people on road trips for 22 years. He says he has adheres to federal driving guidelines every time he gets behind the wheel of a motorcoach.

"You can drive 10 hours, but you have to have breaks in between,"said Patterson.

That's 10 hours of driving within a 24 hour period. Drivers can only be on duty for 15 hours out of a 24 hour period. That includes their 10 hours of drive time and any breaks in between. When the driver reaches their 10 hour drive time, or 15 hour on duty limit, they have to get out of the drivers' seat and let a new driver take over.

The government has been talking about the issue of putting seatbelts on buses for years, however; Patterson doesn't think seatbelts are a good idea.

"If you're buckled in and the top comes off the bus it'll throw you out, but if you're buckled in you can't go anywhere you're just stuck."

Windows on motorcoaches are designed to pop out so that the passengers won't get trapped during an accident. Patterson thinks the absence of seatbelts may have saved lives in the crash that occurred this weekend.

Patterson says the government pays close attention to what happens on the highways and by-ways of America.

"The regulations are getting stricter and stricter all the time and we're just going to have to deal with them which is good."

The National Transportation Safety Board also requires drivers to record their drive times and when breaks times in a driving log.