This fall, motorcoach customers will be able to download an app that allows access to a company's safety record before booking a trip, part of the National Motorcoach Safety Summit.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced the new tool for smart phones during the Sept. 23 kick off in Washington, D.C. The app, expected to be released in November, will also allow the public to submit any safety violation to FMCSA's National Consumer Compliant Database.
Meanwhile, federal, state and local police have begun surprise safety inspections of school buses, motorcoaches and other passenger vehicles required to follow FMCSA's interstate rules and regulations. The two-week inspection sweep continues through Oct. 7.
The day-long Motorcoach Safety Summit on Sept. 23 included a discussion among safety experts of the U.S. Department of Transportation's intermodal approach to strengthening motorcoach safety. It was followed by a panel highlighting the perspectives of individuals responsible for the day-to-day safety of motorcoach passengers, vehicles and drivers.
Summit participants also focused on how to develop and train professional bus drivers, hours-of-service requirements for passenger buses and effective public outreach tools that encourage consumers to choose a safe motorcoach company, every trip, every time, the name of FMCSA's safety checklist when planning a bus trip. Roadside motorcoach inspections are up by nearly 100 percent since 2005 to nearly 26,000, and compliance reviews have increased by 128 percent to more than 1,000 over the same period. The number of enforcement cases pursued by FMCSA are also up to 44 in 2010 from 36 in 2005.
The Department of Transportation has petitioned Congress to raise the penalty for operating illegally or without authority, from $2,000 a day to $25,000 per violation. It also is seeking Congress to provide FMCSA with greater authority to pursue unsafe "reincarnated" passenger carriers by establishing a uniform federal standard to help determine whether a new carrier is a reincarnation of an old, unsafe carrier.
The Department of Transportation has also asked Congress to approve a new procedure that would allow FMCSA to conduct bus safety inspections at en route locations such as rest stops and to require new motorcoach companies to undergo a full safety audit before receiving operating authority.