Truck and Bus Safety Hazards Overlooked by Federal Safety Regulators

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has stated that U.S. truck and bus regulators are not taking steps to prevent serious safety hazards before fatal crashes.  The NTSB claims that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has known about deficiencies in bus company practices before some fatal crashes but took no steps to correct them.  The government agency, FMCSA, has known about these deficiencies before the deadly fatal accidents, but did not take any action to shut down carriers until afterwards.  The National Transportation Safety Board chairman said in a statement that some 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 buses off the road. 

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

The safety board released a letter to the transportation secretary, Anthony Foxx,  requesteing 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. 

NTSB is investigating two bus crashes that killed a total of 17 people.  Both of the companies involved in these fatalities were given a clean review before the crashes.  Later, 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 that caught fire. In that case, the FMCSA had completed a limited review just five days before the 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 trucker based in Louisville, Ky. The trucker had a history of driving violations.  In this truck incident, it plowed into eight other vehicles in slow traffic; 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, repeated offenders have endangered innocent people and killed many.

Kreisman Law Offices has been successfully handling fatal truck and bus accidents 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, Calumet City, 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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