Busing Companies Face Surprise Inspections in Attempt to Decrease Risks of Bus Accidents in Fort Lauderdale and Elsewhere

Nearly 3,000 passenger carrier safety inspections conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) took more than 300 vehicles and drivers off our roadways, according to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. The FMCSA and local and state law enforcement agencies joined forces to conduct these much needed inspections.

“Working side-by-side with our state and local law enforcement partners, we can ensure that every passenger bus company and driver operates as safely as possible,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. “These strike force activities are one of the many effective tools we use year-round to raise the safety bar for commercial buses and drivers on our nation’s roadways.”

While our Boca Raton personal injury lawyers are pleased that such inspections are taking place, it’s unfortunate that it took several bus incidents, including the deadly bus accident that killed 14 passengers in New York City, to highlight the need for tougher inspections and new safety initiatives. With more and more people relying on bus companies for transportation, these companies have a responsibility to provide safe passage for passengers.

Hundreds of Florida residents and tourists rely on these bus companies to transport us to and from many of our Florida attractions. And we count on these companies to keep us safe during our travels. As more and more companies start to offer low-fare bus options, maintenance and safety measures may suffer. it has been proven that low-fare busing companies operate with older buses and often overwork their employees, all increasing the risks of bus accidents.

The number of passenger fatalities has decreased from 57 in 2004 to 46 in 2009. While a 19 percent reduction seems significant, there is much more companies can do to keep their passengers safe. Thousands of others were seriously injured in busing accidents last year.

“Safety is our number one priority,” said Secretary LaHood. “We will continue to use every resource at our disposal to shut down unsafe passenger bus companies that place motorists at risk and remove drivers from our roads who put passengers in harm’s way.”

The Obama Administration began mandating much-needed improvements to motorcoach safety when it introduced a new Motorcoach Safety Action Plan. The rules require all buses to come equipped with seat belts and electronic on-board recorders. The electronic on-board recorders are meant to replace the easily falsified paper records that buses currently use to record driver hours. As these records can be easily altered, many drivers were working long hours, oftentimes operating while drowsy and inattentive, and putting passengers in danger.

Making even more of an attempt to keep drivers alert at the wheel, last year, the DOT adopted a new regulation that banned commercial drivers from texting behind the wheel and initiated rulemaking to ban hand-held mobile phone use.

Again, we’d like to stress that these companies should make passenger safety a number one priority. While low-fare bus options are convenient for travelers, the lowered safety standards should not be accepted.