WASHINGTON, D.C. — Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood met with American Bus Association president Peter Pantusso and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration administrator Anne Ferro on April 5 to discuss improvements in motorcoach safety.
In order to improve motorcoach safety and decrease bus crashes, the DOT has assembled a quick strike group trained in bus inspections who will conduct safety sweeps of companies operating in an unsafe manner. Officials also will review the operating schedules, equipment and drive qualifications of those companies.
Following up on a meeting in February, the session focused on the recently announced crackdown on operators believed to be unsafe. Clyde Hart, ABA senior vice president for government affairs and policy, also participated.
The DOT’s “quick strike group” is trained in bus inspections and will conduct safety sweeps of companies operating in an unsafe manner. Officials also will review the operating schedules, equipment and drive qualifications of those companies.
Highlights of the recent ABA / DOT meeting:
- 54 new investigators have been trained specifically on motorcoaches. They are being sent to the field in teams of two, with a federal or state vehicle inspector so they can look at companies and equipment. These teams went into the field on April 1.
- They are targeting 250 companies with poor records, with an emphasis on poor driver scores in the SMS system, since most accidents are driver-related.
- FMCSA is targeting companies with no "known" place of business and no maintenance facilities.
- Inspectors also are looking at tour schedules to see if operators are pushing the Hours of Service rules to the limit or beyond the limit.
- Companies that applied for and failed the Department of Defense Inspection program also are being reviewed.
- Eventually the training for the 54 new inspectors will be done for all of FMCSA’s outside inspectors.
- By the end of 2013, the goal is that inspectors will have visited every motorcoach company in the FMCSA database and to have one safety standard for all companies operating at the top level, much like what is being done in the airline industry concerning safety.
The DOT would like the motorcoach industry to help identify unsafe operators. To report companies that operate illegally, in an unsafe manner, or are not domiciled where they claim to be, please contact the following:
- DOT hotline for anonymous reporting of unsafe carriers: (888) 368-7238
- Online reporting: http://nccdb.fmcsa.dot.gov
- ABA’s offices: (800) 238-2877
Source: American Bus Association