Management & Operations

Motorcoach Associations Urge Federal Driver Database

Posted on May 21, 1999

The heads of both the American Bus Association and the United Motorcoach Association urged the federal government to create a national database of drivers and their records. The comments were made a National Transportation Safety Board field hearing investigating a bus crash that killed 22 people near New Orleans, LA. The crash raised questions about the driver’s health and drug history. Following the crash, investigators found that Bedell had a history of heart and kidney disease, and that he already had lost two bus-driving jobs because he used marijuana. He also failed a test for cocaine. All of these are situations that should have him disqualified him as a commercial driver. State motor vehicle agencies and police departments must also better inspect bus companies, said Stephen Sprague, chief operating officer of UMA. “There is a certain small core of drivers who are not very responsible and can move easily to another employer and find their way to the road,” he said. Victor Parra, UMA’s CEO, added that although most commercial vehicle enforcement focuses on the safety of the vehicles via roadside inspections, 95 percent of all commercial vehicle accidents are caused by human error. Although NTSB officials say Bedell should not have been driving, they say it is not clear whether his health problems or drug use contributed to the crash. “They have found nothing wrong here with the equipment,” Parra said. “Clearly the issue here appears to be the driver.” Moreover, according to the president of the motorcoach company that hired the driver, he had passed five drug tests and a policy background check during the past two years.

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