Feds crackdown on charter bus industry following rash of crashes

In February, a charter bus full of students crashed into an overpass in Boston following a Harvard visit, leaving 35 people injured. Since then, there have been at least three fatal accidents involving tour and charter buses, despite the fact that federal regulators are in the middle of cracking down on the charter bus industry.

The latest fatal bus accident occurred yesterday outside of Dallas, Texas, and left two people dead and dozens injured. The tragic accident occurred a week after the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced that it was assigning 50 investigators to take a closer look at “higher risk” carriers as part of an effort to ramp up safety in the charter bus industry.

Additionally, the federal agency has shut down more than a dozen private bus companies over the past couple months that were deemed unsafe. Nearly half of the companies that were shut down, including a popular discount bus service between Boston and New York City called Fung Wah, were considered to pose “imminent hazards” to highway safety.

One day after the Boston charter bus crash on Feb. 2, a bus full of tourists traveling back to Mexico crashed in California, killing eight people and leaving several dozen injured. In mid-March, another tragic charter bus accident claimed the life of a pregnant lacrosse coach and the bus driver on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Although there have been several high-profile tour bus crashes in recent months, experts are uncertain if the bus industry is actually getting more dangerous. According to a report from the FMCSA, the crash rate involving motor coaches varies from year to year and it is hard to distinguish a discernible trend.

What is obvious is that bus companies that breach safety regulations will end up facing legal liability if accidents occur and people are hurt or killed.

Source: NBCDFW, “Deadly Texas Bus Crash Coincides with Safety Crackdown,” Jon Schuppe, April 11, 2013