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February 15, 2013

LaHood, Ferro announce motorcoach safety crackdown

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Administrator Anne Ferro announced a targeted safety crackdown using specially trained investigator teams that will focus on high-risk motorcoach companies.

FMCSA inspectors and auditors will undergo specialized training aimed at investigating key areas of operations at motorcoach companies deemed to be high-risk carriers. These operations are unique to the motorcoach industry, such as operating schedules, equipment storage and driver qualifications, including evaluating the impact of part-time drivers who may work for more than one bus operator, among other safety concerns.

The first wave of a national safety sweep will be carried out over the next two months by FMCSA safety personnel who will coordinate with state law enforcement partners on targeted bus company and vehicle inspections.

"Our fundamental goal is to ensure the safety of passengers on our roadways and save lives," said Secretary LaHood. "We've seen the tragic consequences when motorcoach companies cut corners and do not make safety a top priority. With this goal at the top of our priorities, we can continue to raise the safety bar for the entire industry."

State and local police are also being urged to immediately step up enforcement of traffic laws against motorcoach drivers who commit serious traffic offenses, such as speeding, following too closely, texting, using a handheld cell phone, impaired driving and unsafe lane changing.

In light of two recent motorcoach crashes, in San Bernardino, Calif. and eastern Oregon, Secretary LaHood and Administrator Ferro brought together key safety, industry and enforcement organizations to ask for their help and support in the Department’s work to transform the safety culture throughout the motorcoach industry and expand efforts to educate the public and tour industry on safe motorcoach travel.

"Motorcoach safety is at the center of this agency’s radar," said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. "While motorcoach travel is among the safest forms of roadway transportation today, it can and must be safer. The traveling public deserves no less.”

As part of this new initiative, FMCSA is conducting a top-to-bottom analysis of its current passenger carrier oversight system to look for opportunities to strengthen its authority and practices. FMCSA currently oversees the safety and compliance of 525,000 motor carriers, such as interstate buses, tractor trailers and household goods movers. These include more than 4,000 motorcoach companies responsible for over 700 million passenger trips annually.

With this large universe of carriers and only approximately 400 investigators, inspectors and auditors, FMCSA employs a combination of methods to identify safety risks and remove unsafe carriers from the road, including partnering with state and local law enforcement on inspections and conducting paperwork audits.

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