Doubts About Federal Oversight Of Buses

The National Transportation Safety Board earlier this month found that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration failed to pick up or ignored warning signs that preceded several deadly bus accidents in 2012. The NTSB has recommended an audit of the FMCSA as a result of this lack of proper oversight.

Improving safety on America's roads can be a daunting task, and it appears as though some experts wonder if the FMSCA can do better. The NTSB has recommended unanimously that the U.S. Department of Transportation conduct an audit of the FMCSA to:

In a 14-page recommendation, the NTSB claimed that the FMCSA did not "crack down" on "bad operators." The recommendation questioned how well the agency inspected motor carriers, citing a lack of both thoroughness and quality in its investigations. The report came after the NTSB scoured 2,100 pages of agency reports covering several bus crashes, such as an accident involving a tour bus in the San Bernardino National Forest in California that killed eight people and injured dozens more. Had the FMCPA properly investigated the bus involved in the accident, it would have removed it from service.

Another example occurred in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where the driver of a truck killed two people and injured six others when he slammed into a car on the freeway. The truck driver involved had a history of violating hours-of-service requirements; at the time of the accident, the driver had worked 10 hours above the 70 maximum weekly hours allowed. The safety board's inspection of the company before the accident was limited, however, and the driver was allowed to continue working in violation of HOS requirements.

FMCSA administrator Anne Ferro indicated that it has shut down over 100 bus and truck operators in the last three years. From 2001 to 2009, the agency shut down an average of one bus or carrier per year. The director noted that the FMCSA has 350 inspectors that must audit and inspect 10,000 bus companies and over 500,000 trucking firms across the nation. The FMCSA has also conducted its own internal audit of its policy in recent years in an attempt to improve the safety of motor carriers.

  • Determine why inspections are not identifying safety regulations of buses and trucks
  • Determine why FMCSA's "quality assurance efforts are not fully effective"
  • Require the FMCSA to take action on any problem issues discovered in the audit

    Bus and truck safety

    The number of large vehicles on the road is staggering. Large vehicle accidents comprise one of the most dangerous types of accidents on the road today. The difficulty for federal regulators to crack down on truck and bus companies with sub-par safety standards is a monumental task.

    People who have been injured in a bus or truck accident do have legal remedies available to them. Truck and bus companies who negligently cause accidents must pay for the injured person's medical bills and lost wages, among other potential money damages. People who have been in an accident or their loved ones should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss their situation.