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.