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Regulators tackle issue of bus safety

In a recent post we discussed the issue of unsafe coach bus companies operating in California. A recent crash that injured many passengers injured involved a bus company that had been previously cited for safety violations but that was still operating in the state of California. The facts surrounding this crash echoed those in another California bus crash when 11 passengers were injured and eight people were killed by a bus with faulty breaks that had possibly been overlooked by state safety inspectors.

Unfortunately, these stories have repeated themselves nationwide, with innocent customers being injured by negligent bus companies skirting safety laws and inaction by regulators charged with shutting down those operations. New regulations recently released by the Federal Motor Carrier Administration seek to address this issue, making it simpler for regulators to stop companies that are unsafe for passengers.

The key change is that companies with repeated violations can be shut down even if their most recent violation is not severe enough on its own to justify closure. The measure is so basic that even advocates from the coach bus industry agree that it will be a benefit.

This issue impacts millions of Americans every year, with the coach bus industry transporting an equivalent number of people as the airline industry, about 700 million each year. Previous crackdown efforts resulted in 52 coach bus companies being shuttered in a short period of time after regulators determined that they were unsafe for passengers. As we noted in our past post on this issue, passengers have a right to a safe vehicle with an appropriately trained driver. If a bus company fails to meet this obligation, they will be liable for the injuries that result.

Source: WTXF-TV, "Shutting down unsafe bus companies to get easier," Joan Lowy, The Associated Press, Jan. 17, 2014

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