DOT steps up carrier inspections
The U.S. Department of Transportation said that in the last two years, the Obama Administration has issued as many imminent hazard orders placing unsafe bus and truck companies out of service as in the previous 10 years combined.
As part of the administration’s effort to step up motorcoach safety, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has cracked down on unsafe carriers through surprise inspections, full compliance reviews, and enforcement actions.
Between 2000 and 2009, FMCSA issued a total of 14 imminent hazard orders placing unsafe carriers out of service. In just the last two years, FMCSA has already issued another 14 imminent hazard orders to take carriers that pose an immediate risk to passengers off the road. For example, last month the USDOT issued an imminent hazard order to a Michigan company found to be transporting passengers in luggage compartments, at great risk to passengers.
“From Day One, I have pledged to put public safety above all else, and we will continue to take action when we see carriers placing passengers at risk,” said U.S Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “We have seen the tragic consequences of unsafe practices – whether it’s ignoring fatigue regulations, providing inadequate driver training, or failing to conduct the proper maintenance of a bus or motorcoach. We continue using all of the tools at our disposal to get unsafe carriers off the road and hope that Congress will act on our proposal to provide us with the necessary authority to expand our safety oversight.”
In just the past four months, FMCSA has issued eight out-of-service orders. FMCSA issued these orders immediately following safety investigations that found the carriers and/or the drivers to be in such substantial non-compliance with federal safety regulations as to pose an imminent hazard to public safety. The eight imminent hazard out-of-service orders in 2011 have been issued to seven interstate motorcoach companies: two each based in Georgia and Pennsylvania, and one each in Michigan, Mississippi and North Carolina. One order was issued to a Tennessee-based truck driver.
“Our safety investigators, inspectors and state partners will continue demanding that motor carriers and their drivers adhere to safety requirements,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. “While most of the industry operates safely, I also look forward to working with Congress to add new tools to prevent unsafe companies and drivers from operating.”