Bus Safety Rules Too Lax, Federal Review Determines | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

If recommendations the National Transportation Safety Board issued to other federal agencies on Dec. 8 are fully implemented, significantly fewer old, poorly repaired and irresponsibly operated buses will be on America’s highways.

The NTSB has asked a long list of regulators to conduct more frequent and fuller inspections of motor coaches–vehicles such as Greyhound buses and the charter buses used by tourists or entertainers. Inspectors should also give more motor coaches failing grades and work to keep long-haul buses off the road until they are brought up to code, according to the NTSB.

Agencies ranging from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to U.S. Customs and Border Protection received regulatory recommendations stemming from NTSB findings regarding the causes and consequences of a deadly bus accident in Texas (TX) in 2008. In that incident, a bus traveling from Monterrey, Mexico, to Houston ran off the road after its driver fell asleep and flipped when the diver awakened and tried to steer the bus back onto the pavement. One passenger died, and dozens of people were injured, as a result of being thrown around the inside of the vehicle or ejected from it.

Bus passengers face all of the same highway hazards as people in cars. Because the passengers must rely on other people to ensure the vehicle is safe and driven well, however, they literally entrust their lives to those companies and individuals. Therefore, federal regulators should adopt NTSB’s recommendations for improving motor coach safety.