This week the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and its state and local law enforcement partners are conducting safety inspections of motorcoaches, tour buses, school buses and other commercial passenger buses in 13 states and the District of Columbia.
The sweeps are part of FMCSA's year-round effort to raise the bar for bus safety and protect bus passengers by taking unsafe operators off the road. Beginning May 11 and running through May 20, inspections are being held in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.
"Safety is our highest priority," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "Especially during the peak spring and summer travel seasons, we are working hard to remove any bus or driver that places passengers and other motorists at risk on the road."
As part of the inspection process, law enforcement officers are thoroughly checking buses for any mechanical problem, such as brakes, lights and engine defects. Bus drivers are also inspected to ensure they are operating in full compliance with hours-of-service, medical fitness, commercial driver's license and other federal safety rules.
"Rain or shine, at any given location, federal, state and local police are on the ground conducting bus safety inspections that ultimately help save lives," said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. "Our goal is to make bus travel as safe as possible - every trip, every time."
Over the past five years, FMCSA has doubled the number of bus inspections and comprehensive safety reviews of the nation's estimated 4,000 commercial passenger bus companies. Roadside motorcoach inspections have increased nearly 100 percent, from 12,991 in 2005 to 25,705 in 2010, while compliance reviews are up 128 percent, from 457 in 2005 to 1,042 in 2010. By significantly increasing bus safety inspections, FMCSA placed 54 unsafe companies out of service in 2011 alone.
As part of FMCSA's ongoing efforts to improve commercial bus safety, the agency recently unveiled SaferBus, a first-of-its-kind, multilingual app that gives bus riders a quick and free way to review a bus company's safety record before buying a ticket or booking group travel. Designed for the Apple iPhone and iPad, the SaferBus app can be downloaded for free by visiting the Apple iTunes App Store or going to FMCSA's "Look Before You Book" webpage at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/saferbus.
Before buying a bus ticket or booking a bus company, FMCSA also encourages consumers to review the Department of Transportation's "Think Safety: Every Trip, Every Time" pre-trip safety checklist available online at http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety-security/pcs/Index.aspx. Consumers should report any unsafe bus company, vehicle or driver to the FMCSA through a toll-free hotline 1-888-DOT-SAFT (1-888-368-7238) or FMCSA's National Consumer Complaint Database.
In addition, over the last two years DOT has taken action to reduce distracted driving by commercial truck and bus drivers. In January 2010, FMCSA banned texting by commercial drivers, and in November 2011, the agency prohibited commercial drivers from reaching for, holding or dialing a cell phone while operating a commercial motor vehicle.
To learn more about FMCSA's robust passenger bus safety initiatives, visit www.fmcsa.dot.gov.
Today's announcement is just one way the Department of Transportation is marking National Transportation Week. Over the next seven days, the Department is highlighting its commitment to ensuring the safety of America's transportation systems this week and all 52 weeks of the year. Investment in our nation's infrastructure is critical for maintaining and improving safety. Through TIGER grants, discretionary funds and other programs, DOT is working to enhance, expand and modernize American infrastructure, but Congress needs to act. A bipartisan long-term transportation bill is necessary to move our country into the future.