The United States District Court for the District of Oregon honored an FMCSA request to issue a temporary restraining order against Oregon-based bus company RC Investments, Inc., that prohibits the company from operating in or affecting interstate passenger transportation service.
FMCSA requested the temporary restraining order based on evidence that RC Investments was conducting bus trips in direct violation of the agency’s previous orders to immediately cease all transportation operations.
FMCSA initially revoked RC Investments’ operating authority and ordered its officers to shut down all transportation operations effective Aug. 29, 2011. This came after an exhaustive review of the company’s safety compliance led to an unsatisfactory safety rating. The agency found that RC Investments failed to use properly licensed drivers and implement a driver drug and alcohol testing program. In addition, the company failed to regularly inspect its vehicles and ensure that its drivers are medically qualified.
On Nov. 10, 2011, FMCSA found RC Investments buses to still be operating, declared RC Investments an imminent hazard to the public and again ordered the company to shut down. The discovery was made during a nationwide crackdown on unsafe bus operators, part of FMCSA’s annual Passenger Carrier Safety Inspection Strike Force, where federal, state and local police conducted more than 8,000 surprise safety inspections of motorcoaches, tour buses, school buses and other commercial passenger vehicles over a two-week period.
Over the past five years, FMCSA has doubled the number of bus inspections and comprehensive safety reviews of the nation's estimated 4,000 passenger bus companies. Roadside motorcoach inspections have jumped nearly 100 percent, from 12,991 in 2005 to 25,705 in 2010, while compliance reviews are up 128 percent, from 457 in 2005 to 1,042 in 2010. In addition, FMCSA has initiated a greater number of enforcement cases against unsafe passenger carriers under the current administration: from 36 in 2008 to 44 in 2010.
In January 2010, FMCSA banned texting by drivers of commercial vehicles, including trucks and buses. FMCSA has also proposed prohibiting commercial drivers from reaching for, holding or dialing a cell phone while operating a commercial motor vehicle. Drivers who violate these restrictions would face federal civil penalties of up to $2,750 for each offense and revocation of their commercial driver's license (CDL) for multiple offenses. Additionally, states would suspend a driver's CDL after two or more violations of any state law against hand-held cell phone use.
The Department of Transportation also offers a pre-trip safety checklist that helps consumers review a bus company's safety record, safety rating and U.S. Department of Transportation operating authority before buying a ticket or hiring a bus company for group travel.