Several recent incidents involving tire blowouts on passenger buses have prompted the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to take a closer look at the potential cause of these incidents. In partnership with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), FMCSA has conducted preliminary investigations that show potential safety concerns related to double-deck buses that may overload tires outside the suggested weight limit. Under specific circumstances motorcoaches utilizing the double deck design may be susceptible to exceeding the tire weight limit when loaded with passengers and luggage at full capacity. These risks can be avoided by properly loading passengers and cargo, and increasing pressure in tires on the rear wheels.
FMCSA today released a Motorcoach Safety Advisory Bulletin to raise awareness of this issue within the bus industry and urge companies to take action to prevent potential safety risks.
"Safety is our top priority at the Department of Transportation," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "Travelers have a right to expect that their bus will be safe and well-maintained, and bus companies have a responsibility to make sure it is."
"Our mission is to prevent crashes, injuries and fatalities involving large trucks and buses," said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. "That is why we are asking each bus company to put safety first by paying careful attention to their procedures for checking tire pressure and loading passengers and luggage, in order to ensure the safety of travelers."
The Advisory Bulletin states that safe motorcoach operators should have policies and procedures in place to monitor the loading of their vehicles, and take appropriate action (such as reducing passenger/cargo loads, distributing passengers throughout the bus, or increasing tire pressure) to ensure that they remain within the allowable tire weight rating and state vehicle weight limits. FMCSA is working with state officials to increase enforcement of these important safety provisions of federal and state laws.
A tire on a motorcoach loaded beyond its weight rating, operated at highway speeds for a significant period of time, is more likely to overheat and fail, potentially placing the safety of passengers and other motorists at risk. FMCSA takes this issue very seriously, and bus companies or vehicles that violate tire loading restrictions may be declared an imminent hazard and immediately placed out-of-service.
FMCSA and NHTSA will continue to investigate the causes of motorcoach tire failures to ensure the traveling public's safety on this popular mode of intercity transportation.
FMCSA encourages consumers to consider safety when selecting a motorcoach company, to be proactive in pointing out potential safety risks, and to report unsafe behavior using the toll-free hotline, 1-888-DOT-SAFT (1-888-368-7238), or online through the National Consumer Complaint Database at http://nccdb.fmcsa.dot.gov.
FMCSA's SaferBus app also gives bus riders a quick and free way to review a bus company's safety record before buying a ticket or booking group travel. The SaferBus app, designed for the iPhone and iPad, can be downloaded for free by visiting FMCSA's "Look Before You Book" webpage at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/saferbus.
To read the full Motorcoach Safety Advisory Bulletin, visit http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov.