The Oregon State Police say it will take at least a month to finish the investigation into Sunday’s deadly bus accident on I-84, but one of main focuses will be on the driver.
Charter bus drivers can only work 15 hour days, and only ten of those hours can be behind the wheel. That’s to make sure that drivers aren’t too tired to safely operate their buses.
Wendell Crim has been a local commercial bus driver for three years. He said those driving hours can be extended but only with specific conditions.
“If you do encounter unforeseen, and that’s the word, unforeseen circumstances, a driver can get an additional two hours of driving time,” Crim said.
But the Oregon State Police said there was nothing unforeseen about the conditions along I-84 in eastern Oregon. The conditions across the Blue Mountains were well-known and posted.
The other question: Was the driver going too fast for the conditions to make sure he made his destination?
Crim crunched the numbers, and the driver’s trip for Sunday was around 630 miles. That would have taken him longer than ten hours allowed by law.
“Buses are limited to 60 miles per hour in Washington,” he said. The posted speed on I-84 was 55 mph. “He had to average 63 miles an hour in order to complete that trip within his hour requirements.” That calculation doesn’t include any wiggle-room for the anticipated bad weather.
But Crim also said this bus driver was from Canada where drivers can go 12 hours behind the wheel, and he’s not sure which rules would take precedence.
Crim also noted that some companies pressure their drivers to make the trips regardless of the time requirements.
The travel company’s logs and history will be a major part of the investigation into this crash in Oregon.