“During this heavy summer travel season, we will remain alert and remove from our roads any passenger bus or driver that places motorists at risk,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
As travel increases during these summer months, more bus accidents in Chicago and elsewhere are expected to occur. This is why the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and its state and local law enforcement partners conducted more than 3,000 surprise passenger carrier safety inspections. These inspections resulted in nearly 450 unsafe buses or drivers being removed from the nation’s roadways. Out-of-service citations were issued to 127 drivers and 315 vehicles during the surprise inspections.
Our Chicago personal injury attorneys understand that many residents and visitors will be traveling through the city this summer as they get out and enjoy summer vacations. Passengers of these buses expect these companies to keep them safe and get them to their destination safely. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. A number of bus companies operate with unsafe vehicles and drivers not fit for the road. That’s why the FMCSA steps in to push their safety rules and regulations on these companies to help to ensure passenger safety.
Motorcoaches transport roughly 750 million passengers ever year. Standards regulating roof strength, window glazing and a protected seating area reduce the risk of injury in an accident, according to the National Trasnportation Safety Board (NTSB).
The NTSB has placed bus accidents on their “most wanted” list. This list is a campaign that is used to raise awareness about preventable injury and to encourage states to increase their safety measures to regulate these companies. The FMSCA and the NTSB focus on these companies to help ensure the safety of all occupants. Both organizations continuously enforce new safety regulations and standards to make travel and equipment safer for these companies and for passengers.
As we recently reported on our Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, a recent Illinois bus crash resulted in injuries to 20 passengers. Although serious, that is a small portion of the accidents experienced throughout the entire year. In 2009 there were 2,528 bus accidents in Illinois (non-school bus related). These accidents resulted in 608 injuries and seven deaths.
“The public deserves safe passenger bus transportation every ride,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. “FMCSA and its law enforcement partners will not rest until we weed out every unsafe passenger carrier and driver. Our ongoing strike force inspections are essential to protecting motorists and reaching our goal of zero fatalities involving commercial vehicles.”
In recent years, the FMSCA has upped the ante in these comprehensive safety reviews. It’s estimated that our nation has about 4,000 passenger bus companies. The Administration has increased their safety inspection efforts from 12,991 roadside safety inspections of motorcoaches in 2005 to nearly 26,000 inspections in 2010.
In another effort to protect bus passengers, the Administration passed a new final rule that requires any driver that is applying for a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to first have a commercial driver’s learner’s permit. The new rule also requires that every state licensing agency use a standardized CDL testing system and prohibits the use of foreign language interpreters to reduce the potential for testing fraud.
Safety is a top priority of the Department of Transportation. In an effort to increase and double check all safety measures, the DOT unveiled a new “Think Safety: Every Trip, Every Time.” pre-trip safety checklist. This checklist is to help consumers review a bus company’s safety record, safety rating and USDOT operating authority before they purchase a ticket.
The FMCSA has also banned commercial drivers from texting behind the wheel. They’re also looking to enact a rule that would prohibit hand-held mobile phone use by all drivers. Through the Motorcoach Safety Action Plan, the Department has proposed rules that will require all buses to have seat belts and electronic on-board recorders. These recorders will be used to replace easily the falsified paper records of driver hours. Drowsy driving is a top contributor to these busing accidents.
Travelers are urged to look into busing companies. You’re encouraged to look at their driving records, to look at their recent safety inspections and to look at the shape of their equipment. It may not always be your best bet to take the lowest priced company, but it’s is always safest to travel with the most reliable company.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, the personal injury attorneys and wrongful death lawyers at Abels & Annes offer free and confidential appointments to discuss your rights. Call (866) 99-ABELS. There is no fee unless you win.
More Blog Entries:
9 injured in Chicago school bus accident , Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Blog, May 21, 2011
Chicago tour bus accident results in death of pedestrian , Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Blog, May 5, 2011
CTA bus accident on Lake Shore Drive injures 5 people , Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Blog, December 9, 2010