Federal, state and local police began conducting thousands of surprise safety inspections of motorcoaches, tour buses, school buses and other passenger vehicles across the country as the national Motorcoach Safety Summit, sponsored by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), kicked off in Washington, D.C.
The strike force, launched in coordination with the summit, is part of FMCSA's nationwide Passenger Carrier Strike Force. The two-week inspection sweep will continue through October 7.
FMCSA also announced that it will release a new smartphone application that will empower consumers with quick and easy access to a motorcoach company's safety record before booking a trip. The smartphone application, which will be released in November, will also allow the public to submit any safety violation to FMCSA's National Consumer Compliant Database.
The Motorcoach Safety Summit builds on the U.S. DOT's ongoing efforts to strengthen motorcoach safety. 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.
The U.S. DOT has asked Congress to provide FMCSA with greater authority to pursue unsafe "reincarnated" passenger carriers by establishing a uniform federal standard to help determine whether a new carrier is a reincarnation of an old, unsafe carrier.
In addition, it has also requested that Congress approve a new procedure that would allow FMCSA to conduct bus safety inspections at en route locations such as rest stops, and to require new motorcoach companies to undergo a full safety audit before receiving operating authority.
To ensure passenger carriers operating in violation of DOT regulations are punished, U.S. DOT has asked Congress to raise the penalty for operating illegally or without authority from $2,000 a day to $25,000 per violation.