Monday, March 28, 2011

Bus crash in New York City casts light on safety violations

State inspectors found 41 buses with safety violations so severe that they ordered the bus to stop running or the driver to stop driving. Some drivers didn't have a logbook showing how many hours they had worked — a requirement meant to prevent driver fatigue, a leading cause of bus crashes.

"That's not a good thing," said Stephen Keppler, executive director of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, a coalition of state and federal safety officials. "Frankly what it says is we need to spend more energy trying to implement safety actions."

The nation's 3,900 motor coach companies transport 750 million passengers a year, and the National Transportation Safety Board calls motor coaches "among the safest vehicles on the road." About 15 passengers are killed annually — a tiny fraction of the 6,800 passengers who die each year in all motor vehicle accidents.

More than 700 of the 3,100 motor coach operators licensed by the DOT have not been audited in three years, records show, and 467 have never been audited. That's usually because they are new companies, which are allowed to operate temporarily without a full audit.

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