Federal accident investigators urged the government Thursday to look into the federal agency tasked with ensuring safety of commercial vehicles, as those investigators found that a look into four tour bus and truck crashes raised serious concerns about the agency’s performance. Documents released by the National Transportation Safety Board revealed that Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration inspectors failed to respond to red flags that indicated serious safety issues on the part of bus and truck companies involved in crashes in Tennessee, Oregon, Kentucky, and California. In addition to those killed in the crashes, eighty-three individuals were injured, many of them seriously.
NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman stated that FMCSA needs to take action towards bus and truck companies that maintain unsafe vehicles “before crashes occur, not just after high visibility events.” For example, federal inspectors cleared a California bus tour company just a month before one of the company’s buses rolled over near San Bernardino last February. Seven passengers and a pickup truck driver were killed, eleven passengers sustained serious injuries, and twenty-two more suffered minor to moderate injuries. According to the bus driver, the brakes had failed. Just a month prior, federal investigators did not even ask to examine the company’s buses during their visit to the company’s headquarters, despite the fact that the company had been cited numerous times before for a number of mechanical problems. All six brakes on the crashed bus were found to be defective, something that could have been discovered by a proper inspection by federal officials.
Jacqueline Gillan, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety said the NTSB’s findings are “very disturbing and, frankly, deadly for the public.” According to the FMCSA, the number of unsafe companies the administration has taken off the road has more than tripled over the past few years due to more comprehensive inspections and investigations. The statement issued by the FMCSA went on to say, “”We have also brought together key safety, industry and enforcement organizations to ask for their help and support our efforts. We are continuously looking for new ways to make our investigation methods even more effective so we shut down unsafe companies before a crash occurs and will thoroughly review the NTSB’s findings.”
Gov’t oversight of bus, truck industries faulted, www.palmbeachpost.com November 07, 2013
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