Over the past several months, there has been a glut of media reports about dangerous motorcoach companies. In March there was the now infamous Bronx crash in which 15 people were killed. Just a couple of days later another crash in the New York area killed two. Just this week a motorcoach driver who hit and killed a pedestrian was found to be under the influence of alcohol. Responding to the outcry in the media, FMCSA has been convening safety events.
During the May 5th event, FMCSA revealed some interesting statistics:
- In the past 5 years, FMCSA has doubled the number of intensive on-site compliance reviews conducted on motorcoach companies.
- Together with state partners, FMCSA doubled the number of destination inspections, up to 46,000 bus inspections last year.
- In the past two months FMCSA partnered with the states to surge bus inspections to 20,000 in March and April.
- These 20,000 inspections identified nearly 1,700 violations severe enough to put the drivers or vehicles out of service.
In remarks made by Anne Ferro, FMCSA outlined an “Action Plan” to deal with the situation:
“The Secretary announced that we are asking Congress to adopt new zero tolerance policies against unsafe bus companies and to give us the authority to take unsafe bus drivers off the road.
These proposals include tough penalties for companies and drivers who try to evade our safety actions.
We are also advancing a pre-authority safety audit of any company who applies for authority to be a passenger carrier in the United States.
Additionally, we are working on a new rule to establish a national clearinghouse of truck and bus drivers who have tested positive or refused testing under the USDOT drug and alcohol testing program. And we’ll require employers to use that clearinghouse before hiring a driver. Congressional action will strengthen this proposal.
Today, we are unveiling for the American motoring public a package of resources to help them “Think Safety: Every Trip, Every Time.”
This public information package now provides a new consumer checklist to help passengers make bus travel safer. It is a great everyday tool for people to use. When picking a bus company, there’s more to consider than just price and convenience.
We want people to THINK ABOUT SAFETY, and KNOW WHERE TO GET THE INFORMATION. Don’t put yourself or your family at risk by not doing the research first.”
To editorialize, this is largely meaningless; what Ferro is announcing as an ‘action plan’ is, pretty much, exactly what FMCSA does on a day to day basis. However, given the spotlight coming from Ferro it should be safe to predict that we will be hearing a great deal more about motorcoach safety in the coming months.