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FMCSA enlists new allies in war against dangerous bus companies

Written by Steve Gursten Posted August 27th, 2013

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reaches out to governors, law enforcement and bus passengers after recent spike in bus accidents in the news

bus interior

Following numerous deadly bus accidents in the past year, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has attempted to crack down on dangerous bus companies.  In recent months, the agency has shut down many bad bus companies, like Rimrock and Fung Wah.  Albeit, sometimes this happens too late.

Although the FMCSA is making an effort, one thing remains clear: There are still many very unsafe bus companies out there, and these bus companies are cutting  corners on safety. And far too many of these bus companies are escaping detection.

Now the FMCSA is recruiting some powerful allies.

FMCSA Administrator, Anne Ferro, met with numerous industry and enforcement community representatives in early April, according to a recent news release from the FMCSA.  The purpose of the meetings was to update the interested parties about FMCSA measures to ensure that bus companies are complying with federal regulations and protecting passengers who rely on bus transportation.

In its most recent efforts, the agency deployed more than 50 specially trained safety investigators across the country to execute targeted, thorough inspections of higher risk motor coach companies.

Additionally, secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood personally wrote every single state governor asking them to assist in the effort. LaHood asked for active participation in improving bus safety by stepping up traffic enforcement, and to reach out to state residents regarding choosing safe operators for their next bus trip. The FMCSA also asked the International Association of Chiefs of Police to encourage state and local law departments to ramp up traffic enforcement.

During the meetings, the FMCSA took the opportunity to point out its recent efforts to fight back against these reckless companies:

Over the last two months, [the] FMCSA has shut down 15 passenger carriers. Seven were declared imminent hazards and eight were rated “unsatisfactory” following safety compliance reviews.

During the same time period, [the] FMCSA and its state enforcement partners have conducted more than 13,500 roadside inspections, resulting in nearly 1,500 driver and vehicle out-of-service violations being issued.

The Roundtable Attorneys have seen many of the smaller bus companies operating out of control for years. In fact, things are so bad right now that even the American Bus Association (ABA) has come out in support of the FMCSA’s efforts.  The ABA is supporting cracking down on dangerous bus companies.

Innocent people are being hurt and killed because these companies are choosing to ignore mandatory safety rules.  In one well-publicized recent news story that proves the point far more eloquently than I could, a bus company was driving passengers with a very large gaping hole in the floor of the bus.

It seems that the FMCSA is really dedicated to improving motor coach safety. Of course, this is a big undertaking. It is wise that the agency has reached out to interested parties to garner more support.  Fatal bus accidents have occurred at an alarming rate over the past months.  In fact, there was yet another deadly crash in mid-April, which left 2 dead and 42 others injured in Texas.

The lawyers of the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable have seen the devastation wrought by bus accidents first-hand.  We just hope that FMCSA acts swiftly in its efforts to shut down dangerous companies, and does not wait until after another innocent victim gets hurt or killed.  Enlisting allies to help identify and penalize these dangerous companies appears to be a big step in the right direction.

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About Steve Gursten

Attorney Steven Gursten is president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association and past president of the American Association for Justice Trucking Litigation Group. He has been named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Leader in the Law" for his efforts to prevent truck accidents and promote national truck safety. Steve was also a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Lawyer of the Year" for a record settlement in a truck accident case. He has received the top reported truck accident jury verdict and top reported truck accident settlement in Michigan for multiple years, according to published year-end compilations of all jury verdicts and personal injury settlements by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He has been named a "Top 50 Super Lawyer," by SuperLawyers, is listed in Best Lawyers in America, and has been awarded an AV-rating by Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating for legal ability and ethics. Steve speaks to lawyers throughout the country on truck accident litigation. He is a founding member of the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable, head of Michigan Auto Law, and has dedicated his legal career to making our roads safer.