Every time someone boards a bus or motorcoach, they should be confident that they will arrive at their destination safely.
And with the increasing popularity of bus travel – Americans now take 15 percent more trips on motorcoach buses than on airlines – DOT is committed to ensuring that commercial buses traveling between states are well-maintained and operated by men and women who are alert and driving responsibly.
A strike force inspector checks a driver's hours-of-service
On Thursday, FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro and I met with bus safety stakeholders to discuss ways that DOT can improve safety oversight of motor coach operations and protect passenger lives. During the meeting, Administrator Ferro presented our three-phase action plan to accelerate and strengthen FMCSA’s oversight of unsafe bus operators.
Beginning in April, DOT will target high risk carriers with specially-trained safety investigators. Industry, law enforcement, and advocate stakeholders will help in this effort.
We will also undertake national risk assessment and outreach efforts, assess safety management controls at all motorcoach companies, revise motor coach safety investigator and inspector training requirements, and expand efforts to educate the public and tour industry on safe motorcoach travel.
FMCSA has taken aggressive efforts to strengthen passenger carrier safety and enforcement, significantly increasing the number of bus inspections of the nation’s passenger carriers. Over the past seven years, motorcoach inspections have nearly tripled from 12,991 in 2005 to 33,684 in 2012. In 2012, there were 33,684 motorcoach inspections, resulting in 880 motorcoach drivers and 1,831 motorcoach vehicles being placed out of service. On a single day last May, FMCSA took swift action by shutting down 26 companies which represented three major rings of unsafe operators who routinely ignored the safety rules, cut corners, and neglected passenger safety.
Unfortunately, there have been too many deadly bus crashes, such as the recent ones in Oregon and California, which have had devastating impacts. Even one crash or death is too many, and they must be prevented.
These crashes are more than terrible accidents. Each of us has an obligation to answer these calls to action, and our new action plan will help us do just that.
Bus passengers can also take their safety into their own hands by using FMCSA’s SaferBus app, which is now available for the Android operating system. This user friendly app gives riders a quick and free way to review a company’s safety record before buying a ticket or while waiting to board a bus. DOT is continuing to work with app developers to improve this safety app across a variety of platforms to make it even more useful to travelers.
In addition, FMCSA’s Look Before You Book website offers travelers the information they need to make smart decisions before booking a bus trip. FMCSA also offers a pre-trip checklist and a safety violation complaint hotline, 1-888-DOT-SAFT.
The bottom line is that the American people have entrusted us with responsibility to get them to their destinations safely. By working with our enforcement partners and other stakeholders, we can make sure that needless tragedies are avoided and that passenger safety is always everyone’s priority.