USDOT Issues Safety Advisory for Buses

ALPS The Bus at Araneta Center Bus Terminal
Motorcoach a/k/a Bus

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA”) has issued a safety advisory that is particularly applicable in the hot months of summer.  This advisory reminds all motorcoach operators that Federal Motor Carrier safety regulations prohibit buses from carrying a weight greater than that marked on the tire or operating with damaged or dangerously worn tires. First things first. You’re probably asking, and rightfully so, what the heck is a motorcoach? It’s a bus! Just a fancy name for a bus.

In the summer months, when many are traveling on vacation or to visit family and friends, bus operators may be tempted to load their buses with as many passengers and as much cargo as they can. This helps them maximize the profitability of any given trip and the company overall. However, this comes at the cost of safety to passengers and other drivers. A tire loaded beyond its carrying capacity and operated at highway speeds is more likely to overheat and fail, placing the lives of passengers and other motorists at risk. This is particularly critical during the hot summer months when overheating can occur faster and more often.  

Vehicles have a number of weight ratings that should not be exceeded in order to ensure safe operation of the vehicle. For instant the gross vehicle weight rating is the weight value specified by the manufacturer as the loaded weight of a single vehicle. The gross axle weight rating is weight specified by the vehicle manufacturer as the load-carrying capacity of a single axle system. Exceeding either or both of these can result in injury to the driver or passengers of the vehicle or other drivers on the road. However, even if these weight ratings are complied with, exceeding the weight rating of the tires on the vehicle can be equally dangerous, and that is why the FMCSA has issued this warning. Operating with worn or damaged tires can present similar dangers. Before every trip, bus operators should consider maximum tire loads and speed ratings of the tires on their vehicles, and allow an adequate tire pressure safety margin when carrying maximum passenger and luggage loads.

A motor vehicle operator’s failure to use properly inflated tires may not be obvious, but could be the ultimate cause of a tragic accident.  That is why it is crucial that any injured party retain a legal team knowledgeable about the FMCSA safety regulations when considering legal action due to a commercial vehicle accident.



Want to check a bus company’s safety record? There’s an app for that!

Are you planning a bus trip? Thinking of taking a job with a bus company? You may want to check out the company’s safety record before taking that trip or accepting that job. Now you can do that with a smart phone app. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)  has released an app that will allow you to check the safety record of busing companies. Through this app you can check the company’s operating authority, insurance status, safety performance data, and safety alerts issued by the FMCSA. You can also register complaints about a bus company through the app.  You can read more and download the app here.

FMCSA Shuts Down Kansas Party Bus Operator

i took the photo myself.OK
Party Bus

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has ordered Olathe, Kan.-based passenger carrier Midnight Express cease operations. The FMCSA declared that the company’s owners were operating an unauthorized and unsafe commercial transportation service.

On May 4, 2013, a passenger in a modified motor coach (party bus) operated by Midnight Express fell out of a door and onto the road surface while the bus was moving. The passenger was fatally struck by other vehicles. An inspection of the vehicle revealed realigned seating modifications made to the vehicle resulted in all four emergency exit windows being blocked. The rear emergency exit window was also blocked and the release mechanism was inoperable. There were also serious deficiencies with the vehicle’s brakes and engine exhaust leaks beneath the passenger compartment. As if that weren’t enough, the FMCSA also found that the Midnight Express owners failed to ensure that its drivers were qualified and had complied with federal hours-of-service regulations. Drivers were not subjected to random drug and alcohol tests as required by federal regulations.

In this unfortunate case, tragedy struck an unknowing passenger due to what is an all too common disregard for federal safety regulations by operators of commercial motor vehicles such as party buses and tractor-trailers. At times, the government’s enforcement of these regulations protects the public and avoids unnecessary injury and death. At other times, however, the trucking companies’ failure to follow simples, obvious , and federally mandated safety regulations results in catastrophe. If you or a loved one have been injured in a trucking or bus accident, please contact an attorney with trucking experience for a free consultation.


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