Unsafe bus lines are in the news again. As part of a nationwide effort to improve bus safety, North Carolina bus company ATA Trail received an immediate order to cease operations last week, after the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration declared it an imminent hazard to public safety.
FMCSA found that ATA drivers were:
• Lacking required medical qualifications
• Violating hours-of-service rules
• Operating without appropriate insurance
• Operating buses that had not been regularly inspected and repaired.
During FMCSA’s two-week National Passenger Carrier Inspection Strike Force, federal, state and local police mounted 8,300 surprise inspections of all types of buses, which led to the removal of 902 unsafe buses or drivers from the road.
“Using Every Available Resource”
“Our message is clear,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Unsafe buses and drivers have no place on our nation’s roads. We are using every available resource to remove high-risk bus companies and drivers that threaten the safety of the American motoring public.”
FMCSA and state investigators also launched 350 on-site safety reviews of commercial bus firms. Over the past five years, FMCSA has doubled bus inspections and safety reviews of the 4,000 or so bus companies operating in the U.S.
DOT has asked Congress to let FMCSA raise the penalty for illegal operations from $2,000 a day to $25,000 per violation, and to close loopholes that let bus and truck companies reincarnate under new names. DOT also wants FMCSA to be able to conduct safety inspections at en route locations, and to require any new bus company to undergo a full safety audit before it receives operating authority.
FMCSA encourages consumers to report any unsafe bus company, vehicle or driver at 1-888-DOT-SAFT (1-888-368-7238) or on the agency’s National Consumer Complaint Database.