In early July, a bill that would require the Department of Transportation (DOT) to enforce new public safety ratings for discount bus companies passed in Congress.
U.S. Senator Charles Schumer first proposed the bill in 2011. The proposal was Schumer’s response to the discount tour bus industry’s multiple fatal accidents in recent years. In 2010, a bus driver who was not paying attention crashed his vehicle into an overhead bridge in Syracuse. Four people died in this incident. More recently, in March 2011, a Bronx bus crash resulted in the deaths of 15 people.
The new bill would require bus companies to disclose their safety ratings to the public. The hope is that customers could be more careful about which bus companies they choose to use, looking out for their own safety. Additionally, discount bus companies would have more incentive to operate safely as a poor rating could mean fewer passengers.
Schumer’s bill calls upon the Federal Motor Carriage Safety Administration (FMCSA) to develop the safety rating system for the buses – preferably one that uses letter grades. Such a system is already in place for New York City restaurants. The bill requires that the bus ratings be posted where customers could easily see them, including ticket counters, terminals and on the buses themselves.
In addition to the rating requirements, the bill also calls for new safety measures and gives the DOT more authority to enforce them. The bill has some provisions to combat fatigued drivers. It requires that buses have electronic logs so that drivers can report the hours they drive each day. It also calls for the DOT to carry out a study on bus driver fatigue. In addition, the bill focuses on the safety of the vehicles themselves, calling for such advancements as seat belts, tire pressure monitoring and rollover protection.
Source: EmpireStateNews.Net, ” Bill requiring disclosure of bus company safety grades passes congress, heads to president’s desk,” July 2, 2012.