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Oversight over bus entities questioned after deadly accidents

Four deadly commercial bus and truck accidents last year have sparked public concern over the lax regulation by the FMCSA and the agency's minimal inspections.
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    December 05, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Four previous commercial bus and truck accidents that caused 25 passenger deaths and 83 injuries last year have sparked public concern over the lax regulation by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regarding these motor carrier entities.

Recent information reveals that prior to the accidents, the FMCSA, the federal agency that regulates commercial carrier entities, failed to thoroughly inspect certain individual buses, including the ones involved in the deadly accidents, and fine or shut down carriers in violation of federal safety regulations.

Many people are now left wondering whether, moving forward, additional oversight is needed to combat the seemingly rise in bus-related auto accidents.

Specifics of the accidents

The four different accidents occurred in various months of 2012. In one instance, a commercial bus was traveling down a steep mountain road in the San Bernardino National Forest in California and rear-ended a car that ultimately caused a collision with a pickup truck. A total of seven passengers aboard the bus were killed as well as the driver of the pickup. Twelve others involved sustained injuries.

An investigation revealed that all six brakes aboard the bus were defective in addition to other "numerous mechanical problems."

The FMCSA was evidentially aware of the bus carrier's maintenance issues through various roadside inspections. But reports suggest that the inspections were mediocre at best. However, the FMCSA indicated the line's performance was "satisfactory." A month later, the California bus accident occurred.

Another one of the four accidents involved a commercial truck that killed two and injured six. The investigation found that the particular truck driver at fault worked 10 hours beyond the allotted federal workweek driving allowance--and had a history of skirting hours of service, or HOS rules. According to reports, the FMCSA was aware of this, yet a recent inspection that involved the driver was "limited."

Additional regulation

It is evident that bus operations are continuing to skirt the laws and putting passengers and others on the roadways at risk of harm.

Well over 100 bus and truck operators were shut down since 2010 for federal safety violations. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, a federal body tasked with investigating transportation accidents, indicates that this is exactly why more oversight, including stricter audits and follow-ups, is needed.

Deborah A. P. Hersman, NTSB Chairwoman, said in a recent statement that the FMCSA needs "to crack down before crashes occur, not just after high-visibility events."

Article provided by Leonard B. Gabbay, P.C.
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