Fatalities Related to Truck and Bus Safety Hazards Overlooked by Federal Safety Regulators

Officials at the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) believe that U.S. truck and bus regulators are not catching on to serious safety hazards before fatal crashes occur.  The NTSB has stated that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has known about deficiencies in bus company practices before some fatal crashes, but the agency took no steps to correct them.  The FMCSA has known about these deficiencies before the fatal accidents took place, but did not take any action to shut down carriers until afterward.  The NTSB chairman said in a statement that some of these cases are under investigation by the agency. 

The report said that there has been a long period of time — maybe years — that the FMCSA has chosen not to take action against some bus companies despite repeated safety citations. The report also reinforced the fact that the FMCSA did nothing to take some of the dangerous buses out of service and off the road. 

The chairman of the NTSB, Deborah Hersman, said in a statement that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration needs to crack down before more deadly crashes occur, not just after high-visibility events.  Ms. Hersman also said that poor performing bus companies were on the FMCSA’s radar for safety violations, but they did not take any action and allowed these bus companies to continue operating.

The safety board released a letter to the transportation secretary, Anthony Foxx, that requested a comprehensive audit of FMCSA’s company oversight process, identifying why inspectors are not finding and citing all safety violations and why the agency has not done complete and accurate reviews. 

The NTSB is investigating two bus crashes that killed a total of 17 people.  Both of the companies that were involved in these fatalities were given a clean review before the crashes. Later, the FMCSA inspected the companies and found them each to have had serious safety violations.

One of the companies received a satisfactory review even though inspectors found brake flaws, evidence of drivers working excessive hours and failed alcohol and drug tests. According to the report, because the companies pledged to be more attentive, they were given a satisfactory rating.  That is just not good enough. 

In another truck fatality case in Michigan, it was found that the truck involved was unable to brake in time before crashing into stopped traffic killing, six people in a Ford Expedition. In that case, the FMCSA had completed a limited review just five days before this fatal crash without inspecting the company’s compliance with regulations on how long drivers can be on duty.  The company had been cited before for such violations. 

In yet another fatality case involving a truck company, two people were killed by a Louisville, Ky.-based trucker who had a history of driving violations.  In this truck incident, the truck plowed into eight other vehicles in slow traffic where two individuals died after their vehicle overturned and caught fire.

There should be some immediate and significant changes in the way the federal regulators conduct their reviews of trucking and bus companies.  Obviously there have been repeated offenders who have endangered innocent people and killed many.

Kreisman Law Offices has been successfully handling fatal truck and bus accidents cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 38 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Rosemont, Oak Park, Villa Park, Wood Dale, Hinsdale, Western Springs, Countryside, Palos Park, Midlothian, Calumet City, Merionette Park, Blue Island, Riverdale, Evergreen Park, Chicago (Brighton Park, Lawndale, Humboldt Park, Pilsen, Chinatown, Greektown, Goose Island, Old Town, Clybourn Corridor, Englewood, Washington Heights, Roseland, South Shore) and Joliet, Ill.

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