October 27, 2011

N.Y. bus safety crackdown removes 100-plus drivers from road

More than 100 bus drivers and nearly as many buses were taken of the streets of New York as a result of the state's recent roadside bus inspection effort.

New York's Department of Transportation (DOT) conducted 1,185 roadside bus inspections statewide as part of a two-week inspection initiative. The inspections, conducted between September and October, resulted in 116 bus drivers and 95 buses being taken off the road throughout the state. In the New York City area alone, 48 drivers and 26 buses were taken out of service.

This enforcement push was the latest effort in a crackdown on bus safety that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo launched last March after two bus crashes resulted in multiple fatalities.

The recent two-week inspection initiative was conducted in conjunction with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and police agencies across the state from September 23 to October 7.

In response to Governor Cuomo's bus safety directive last spring, state DOT inspectors, New York State troopers and other law enforcement officials have conducted 5,166 roadside bus inspections, removing 530 drivers and 460 vehicles from the road. In addition, New York State Police have issued more than 550 moving violations to bus drivers.

Roadside checks conducted in the New York City area continue to produce the greatest number of drivers and vehicles with serious violations. Of the 2,437 roadside bus inspections conducted there since March, 379 drivers and 387 vehicles have been taken out of service.

Since New York's inspection initiative began earlier this year, the National Transportation Safety Board announced that it will be conducting a review of the safety system governing the discount tour bus industry. The FMCSA also announced that it moved up its national bus inspection operations to assist states in conducting roadside checks of motor coaches and their drivers.

As part of the state's effort to enhance commercial bus safety, the Cuomo Administration in July announced that the DOT sent legal notice to suspend the operating licenses of eight poor-performing charter tour bus operators. The companies had failed three or more roadside inspections of buses or drivers in the previous six months, failed their scheduled semi-annual bus inspections, or received a federal out-of-service order. Two of these companies closed operations, one gave up its license to operate within New York State, and five were required to take immediate corrective actions regarding their drivers and vehicle maintenance in order to regain their New York licenses.

In addition to the bus safety crackdown, investigators with the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles continue to look for bus drivers who may fraudulently obtain multiple driver licenses using aliases. Facial recognition technology is used to identify individuals who have a valid commercial driver license in one name and additional driver license documents in another.

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