Tour bus safety a top priority says Senator

Back in May, four people were killed and 50 injured when a Sky Express bus overturned on Interstate 95 in Virginia, just days after the the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced that it had conducted more than 3,000 surprise tour bus safety inspections and issued out-of-service citations to 127 drivers and 315 vehicles. In the wake of a series of fatal bus accidents including a fatal tour bus crash in New York on Sunday, the DOT has asked Congress to give it greater power to fight unsafe bus companies.

“This news of yet another fatal bus crash in New York is a stark reminder that we need to improve bus safety as quickly as possible, and I am going to work as hard as I can to pass legislation that will do exactly that,” U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer said in a statement.

The DOT wants its Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to have greater authority to pursue suspended operators that get licenses to operate under a new name.
“We need to pass comprehensive safety legislation that includes tire safety standards to slow this growing epidemic of crashes” added Schumer noting “I will also continue my push for a letter grade safety rating system so passengers know the safety ratings of bus carriers before they buy tickets. I won’t rest until we get to the bottom of what happened in this crash, and put in place the necessary safeguards to make commercial buses as safe as they possibly can be.”

The DOT has also asked Congress to approve a new procedure that would allow FMCSA to conduct bus safety inspections at locations such as rest stops, and to require new motorcoach companies to undergo a full safety audit before receiving operating authority.

The DOT also unveiled a “Think Safety: Every Trip, Every Time” pre-trip safety checklist that helps consumers review a bus company’s safety record, safety rating and U.S. DOT operating authority before buying a ticket or hiring a bus company for group travel.

Flickr photo by stp243