FMCSA Ramping Up Commercial Bus Enforcement
FMCSA will be teaming up with state law enforcement to conduct unannounced motorcoach inspections at popular travel destinations throughout the spring and summer peak travel season.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood recently announced several new measures that the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is taking to help ensure that passengers traveling by bus are as safe as possible. DOT will now require more rigorous commercial driver’s license testing standards, seek new rules to strengthen passenger carrier and driver compliance with federal safety regulations, and empower consumers to review safety records of bus companies before booking. LaHood and FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro also announced that FMCSA will be teaming up with state law enforcement to conduct unannounced motorcoach inspections at popular travel destinations throughout the spring and summer peak travel season.
“Safety is our number one priority,” LaHood said. “These new requirements we are announcing today will help ensure passengers are safe and that carriers and drivers are in full compliance with federal safety regulations. The public deserves to know that when they board any type of bus or commercial vehicle, they will be delivered to their destination safely.”
FMCSA issued a new final rule requiring anyone applying for a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to first obtain a commercial driver’s learner’s permit (CLP). The rule also requires all state licensing agencies to use a CDL testing system that meets the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators CDL knowledge and skill standards, and prohibits the use of foreign language interpreters to reduce the potential for testing fraud. Prior to this new rule, CDL applicants were not required to first obtain a learner’s permit and CDL testing systems were not uniform nationwide.
Additionally, DOT has put forth several new policy proposals designed to raise the bar for passenger carrier safety, including a provision that would give the agency greater authority to pursue enforcement action against unsafe “reincarnated” passenger carriers by establishing a federal standard to help determine whether a new carrier is simply a reincarnation of an old, unsafe carrier.
The department is also proposing to require new motorcoach companies to undergo a full safety audit before receiving DOT operating authority, revise current law to ensure a driver’s CDL can be suspended or revoked for drug- and alcohol-related offenses committed in non-commercial vehicles, and raise the penalty from $2,000 a day to $25,000 for passenger carriers that attempt to operate without DOT authority.
In addition, FMCSA and its state and local enforcement partners are supporting improved passenger bus safety with a growing number of unannounced bus safety inspections across the country. Starting this week and lasting throughout the summer travel season, the enforcement campaign will target popular destinations such as amusement parks, national parks, casinos, and sports event venues.
Over the past five years, FMCSA has doubled the number of unannounced bus safety inspections and comprehensive safety reviews of the nation's estimated 4,000 passenger bus companies. Roadside safety inspections of motorcoaches jumped from 12,991 in 2005 to 25,703 in 2010, while compliance reviews rose from 457 in 2005 to 1,042 in 2010.