FMCSA Concerns Lead to Increased Charter Bus Inspections
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is worried about the higher frequency of fatal commercial bus accidents, so it has announced an initiative that will feature increased charter bus inspections. They will prioritize the inspection, repair and maintenance of commercial buses at a much higher level.
The FMCSA has already increased the number of commercial bus inspections they have performed. Over the past five years, they have done more than 4000 of them. They have also practically doubled the number of annual roadside inspections they do, from 12,991 in 2005 to 25,705 in 2015. The agency plans to increase that even more, as they try to make the roads safer for everyone.
This seems to be a trend for the agency. Last month, the FMCSA denied a petition from the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), which represents truck and bus inspectors across North America, asking the agency to rescind the 30-minute break requirement contained in the current hours of service regulations. The CVSA claimed that it was difficult to enforce and contributed little to road safety.
The FMCSA used this announcement to reiterate to all drivers of commercial vehicles that they are required to produce a written inspection report for their bus at the end of every work day, which includes the make, model and year of the bus, and which notes any defects or maintenance problems that may impact the safe operation of the bus.
In the announcement, the FMCSA cited four bus accidents that occurred in Texas. For example, this past May, a charter bus owned by OGA Charters crashed in South Texas, killing eight and injuring 44. The bus was making its way from Eagle Pass to a casino in the Rio Grande Valley when it slid off the road and rolled over about 42 miles north of Laredo. Although the exact cause has not been determined, rain may have been a contributing factor. The FMCSA had cited and fined OGA Charters in 2011 for violations of drug testing regulations and for improper vehicle maintenance and repair.
Back in February, a Texas prison bus was involved in a fatal collision when a pickup truck slammed into the bus when it ran a stop sign. In all, 21 inmates and 2 guards were injured in the accident and the driver of the pickup was killed. In December 2015, a Greyhound bus hit an SUV on I-30 near Arlington TX, injuring 16 passengers and killing the SUV driver. Investigators believe the SUV struck a concrete barrier before it veered into the path of the bus. And a month earlier, in November 2015, there was a fatal head-on crash between a commercial tour bus carrying a band called The Ghost Inside, and a commercial truck about 15 miles east of El Paso. That accident killed the bus driver and the truck driver. The band members and their crew were treated for minor injuries at a local hospital.
All operators of commercial vehicles, including buses, have a legal obligation to ensure that their drivers are properly trained and meet all federal requirements for hiring and that they follow all federal rules and regulations designed to keep everyone else on the road safe. The companies who own these vehicles have a legal obligation to conduct regular safety inspections of their vehicles per state and federal law. It is good that the FMCSA is cracking down on this problem because doing so can save lives.
Accidents involving commercial buses are almost always tragic and can result in serious personal injury or death, primarily because these are among the largest and heaviest vehicles on the road. If you or a loved one have been injured or killed in an accident involving a commercial bus, the Bus Accident Injury Attorney atThe Hill Law Firm has the experience to handle these types of cases. Contact us immediately and allow us to help you protect your rights.