U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced several new measures that the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is taking to help ensure that passengers traveling by bus are as safe as possible. The U.S. DOT will now require more rigorous commercial driver’s license testing standards, seek new rules to strengthen passenger carrier and driver compliance with federal safety regulations, and empower consumers to review safety records of bus companies before booking. Secretary LaHood and Administrator Ferro also announced that FMCSA will be teaming up with state law enforcement to conduct unannounced motorcoach inspections at popular travel destinations throughout the spring and summer peak travel season.
“Safety is our number one priority,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “These new requirements we are announcing today will help ensure passengers are safe and that carriers and drivers are in full compliance with federal safety regulations. The public deserves to know that when they board any type of bus or commercial vehicle, they will be delivered to their destination safely.”
Additionally, the U.S. Department of Transportation has put forth several new policy proposals designed to raise the bar for passenger carrier safety, including a provision that would give the U.S. DOT greater authority to pursue enforcement action against unsafe “reincarnated” passenger carriers by establishing a federal standard to help determine whether a new carrier is simply a reincarnation of an old, unsafe carrier.
The Department is also proposing to require new motorcoach companies to undergo a full safety audit before receiving U.S. DOT operating authority, revise current law to ensure a driver’s CDL can be suspended or revoked for drug- and alcohol-related offenses committed in non-commercial vehicles, and raise the penalty from $2,000 a day to $25,000 for passenger carriers that attempt to operate without USDOT authority.
USDOT also unveiled a “Think Safety: Every Trip, Every Time” pre-trip safety checklist that will help consumers review a bus company’s safety record, safety rating and USDOT operating authority before buying a ticket or hiring a bus company for group travel. The checklist is now available online at FMCSA’s Passenger Bus Safety website: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety-security/pcs/Index.aspx.
In addition, FMCSA and its state and local enforcement partners are supporting improved passenger bus safety with a growing number of unannounced bus safety inspections across the country. Starting this week and lasting throughout the summer travel season, the enforcement campaign will target popular destinations such as amusement parks, national parks, casinos and sports event venues.
For more information, visit the FMCSA website at www.fmcsa.dot.gov.