The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has declared Heartland Charters & Tours and its principals an imminent hazard to public safety. The Oklahoma-based, interstate passenger bus company was ordered to immediately shut down its operations.
FMCSA placed Heartland Charters & Tours out-of-service after an extensive review of the company's operations found multiple hours-of-service, vehicle maintenance, and controlled substance and alcohol testing violations. Safety investigators discovered that the company did not conduct pre-employment drug screenings of its drivers and failed to use properly qualified drivers, putting the public at risk.
Over the past five years, FMCSA has doubled the number of bus inspections and comprehensive safety reviews of the nation's estimated 4,000 passenger bus companies. Roadside motorcoach inspections have jumped nearly 100%, from 12,991 in 2005 to 25,705 in 2010, while compliance reviews are up 128%, from 457 in 2005 to 1,042 in 2010. By significantly increasing bus safety inspections, FMCSA placed 54 unsafe companies out-of-service in 2011 alone.
As part of FMCSA's ongoing efforts to improve commercial bus safety, the agency recently unveiled SaferBus, a first-of-its-kind app that gives bus riders a quick and free way to review a bus company's safety record before buying a ticket or booking group travel. Designed for the Apple iPhone and iPad, the SaferBus app can be downloaded for free by visiting the Apple iTunes App Store or going to FMCSA's "Look Before You Book" webpage at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/saferbus.
A copy of the imminent hazard out-of-service order can be viewed here.