In February, we posted about the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration‘s new plan to investigate how dangerous motorcoach and bus travel is in the United States today.
At that time, FMCSA officially announced its investigation into bus crashes and people being hurt or worse after choosing to travel by bus and being injured in a bus crash. The details about the investigation’s origins and the bus crash injuries that drew the attention of the federal government can be read here.
This week, the Secretary of the Department of Transportation, Ray LaHood, along with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator Anne S. Ferro hosted a big conflab in Washington D.C. with representatives of motorcoach companies from around the country. The reason? To discuss the safety of buses today and to push for more public awareness of safety issues in traveling by bus.
Along with the bus company people were other invitees of FMCSA: travel agency representatives, tourist industry folk, and government officials at both the state and local level. Law enforcement representatives were there too.
50 Federal Bus Safety Inspectors Roaming the U.S. Checking Motorcoaches and Buses for Dangers
One thing on the agenda: the announcement that FMCSA has 50 safety investigators, specially trained in the aspects of bus travel and the dangers of motorcoaches, roaming the United States. These Federal Bus Inspectors are looking into high risk motorcoach bus companies – and have been for awhile now.
“Safety is our highest priority and we are committed to keeping those who do not follow our safety rules off the road,” said Secretary LaHood. “Today’s announcement builds on the recent steps we have taken to create one standard of safety for all passenger travel.”
The federal crackdown on motorcoaches is already bringing results: within the past 60 days, 15 bus companies (passenger carriers) have had their vehicles pulled off the roads by the FMCSA.
Fifteen companies in eight weeks is a telling tale of how danger bus travel really is in the United States right now. Of these fifteen passenger carriers, 7 were labelled “imminent hazards” by the federal inspectors and 8 were labelled “unsatisfactory.” There’s more: during those same 8 weeks, working with state government safety officials, the FMCSA has found an additional 1500 violations of safety laws by bus drivers and bus maintenance.
“Through our stepped-up oversight of motorcoach companies and expanding outreach to consumers, the department will continue to raise the bar on motorcoach safety,” said Administrator Ferro. “Our work with the law enforcement community and our diverse stakeholders is to make passenger safety everyone’s number one priority and to prevent needless tragedies.”
Public Awareness of Safe Bus Travel: the “Look Before You Book” Campaign
In tandem with its safety inspectors combing the country for bus dangers, FMCSA has implemented a media campaign to make people who are deciding whether to take a bus for a trip, or who are choosing between bus companies, to have needed facts on how to choose a safe bus carrier.
The “Look Before You Book” campaign includes an app that gives each bus company’s record of safety as tallied by FMCSA. It can be downloaded online here and it can be seen in the above image.
Additionally, the FMCSA offers a bus company safety checklist in different languages online. Before taking a bus trip, passengers are encouraged to check out the bus company they are considering using.