The driver of last week’s deadly tour bus crash in Virginia has been charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter. The maximum prison term is ten years in prison for each count. It is believed that this tour bus left Greensboro, North Carolina about an hour later than originally planned. The tour bus driver was frustrated because the passengers wanted to make two stops on the way to New York. The bus driver, Mr. Kin Yiu Cheung, did not want to make the additional stop. While there is no way to be sure, it seems that the bus driver was likely speeding in order to make up for the time lost by making the stops. Newspapers and blogs on the internet have reported that Mr. Cheung who operated the Sky Express Tour Bus that crashed, had a history of driving violations including 4 speeding tickets. In the days after the Sky Express Crash the New York Legislature passed a bill requiring all tour bus drivers to undergo a criminal background check. The next step is that this tour bus driver law will go before the entire New York General Assembly.
Those injured and those who have family that were killed in the Sky Express Crash have good reason to be angry. The reasons for anger increased on Friday when it was reported that even after the DOT revoked the license of Sky Express to sell tickets and operate, they apparently were selling bus tour tickets under different company names including 108 Tours, 108 Bus and even painting some of its busses.
Bottom Line – It is not just Mr. Cheung-the bus driver who should be locked up. Sky Express and its owners/principals deserve to have criminal charges brought against them as it is the corporation and its officers who allowed a corporate culture to exist that did not put a priority on safety and caused the 4 deaths and numerous injuries last week. The owners of Sky Express — Dr. Xiangping Chen aka Jimmy Chen, President and CEO of IvyMedia Corporation/GotoBus.com have been subpoenaed to appear before the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regarding this issue and a Cease and Desist Order was issued June 3, 2011 to stop this nonsense.
It is disturbing that there have been so many deadly crashes and fatalities on tour busses in the last 6 months. The tour bus industry seems to have low safety standards and they are not regulated in the same manner as even tractor trailers. For example, I do not believe that the FMCSA requires Tour Bus Drivers to keep driver logs. By contrast, drivers of 18 wheelers and tractor trailers are indeed required to keep driver logs showing how many hours they have driven and the law limits how many hours per week big rig operators can drive. The Tour Bus Industry needs to adopt similar safety policies or else more needless deaths will occur.
There are reports in the media that a passenger overheard Kin Yiu Cheung talking on his portable phone about how tired he felt and upset that he did not have any down time between trips.