According to the American Bus Association, a group that represents commercial bus operators in North America, motorcoaches account for 751 million passenger trips each year. But just how safe are bus trips? One troubling indication is the federal government’s announcement that it recently shut down 52 bus companies for being unsafe.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) released the findings of its eight-month project to put unsafe bus companies out of business. Performed between April and November 2013, “Operation Quick Strike” involved more than 50 trained investigators conducting reviews of the 250 most at-risk motorcoach companies across the country.
Based on the investigators’ findings, the FMCSA:
• Immediately shut down 20 commercial bus operators for safety violations. They were evaluated as posing an “imminent hazard to the public.”
• Closed down another 32 motorcoach companies that received “Unsatisfactory” safety ratings after not fixing major violations
• Took 340 commercial buses off the road after they were inspected and found to have significant safety and maintenance violations
The FMCSA cited improper maintenance of the buses, violations of drivers’ hours-of-service rules, and inadequate testing programs for drug and alcohol use by drivers as the main reasons for shutting down the unsafe motorcoach companies.
Driver Errors Causing Bus Crashes
A previous federal report also highlights another danger of motorcoach trips, and that is the actions of the driver. In a 2012 update of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s “Motorcoach Safety Action Plan,” it lists the causes of motorcoach crashes investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board. According to the report:
• Bus driver fatigue accounted for 37 percent of the accidents
• Bus driver inattention accounted for 13 percent of the accidents
While travel by motorcoach can be convenient, cost-effective, and often times safe, passengers can be killed or suffer major injuries through the negligent actions of bus drivers and bus companies. If you are loved one were the victim of a catastrophic accident caused by an unsafe motorcoach company or bus driver, an experienced attorney may be able to help in holding them accountable.