Next week, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will publish a Patterns of Safety Violations Rule that solidifies the agency’s authority to shut down a bus or truck company if it has a history of purposely violating federal safety regulations.
The new rule complements a rule adopted by the FMCSA in 2012 to apply out-of-service orders to “reincarnated” carriers, which reopen under new names, and to consolidate their enforcement histories. Today’s rule goes one step further by authorizing a full revocation of the motor carrier’s authority to operate.
Last month, the FMCSA shut down 52 unsafe carriers as a result of a months-long investigation called Operation Quick Strike. Some of these bus companies, such as New Haven Bus Service and People to Places in Connecticut, provided charter bus service to school districts.
This rule is one of the agency’s new enforcement tools to target high-risk carriers that endanger travelers by covering up their negative history of safety compliance. FMCSA intends to apply the rule in egregious cases in which it finds a motor carrier has committed a pattern of unsafe practices, even if the investigation alone does not result in a downgrade of the carrier’s safety fitness rating.
Last April, the FMCSA launched an investigation into Platinum Magic Carpet Ride of Waldorf, Md., after a dozen New York high school students were ejected from their seats when their bus driver failed to successfully make a turn, causing the charter bus to flip over on a ramp in Columbus, Ohio. The students were returning home from the FIRST Robotics Competition in St. Louis, Mo. One student suffered a herniated disk and several broken ribs in the accident.
An FMCSA spokesperson said at the time that Platinum Magic Carpet Ride had failed to respond to three recent letters requesting a compliance audit of maintenance performed on the bus. The company had also received a warning by the Maryland Department of Transportation about an impending license revocation, said a spokesperson for the Maryland DOT.
Platinum Magic Carpet ride apparently closed its doors prior to the December crackdown (Editor's Note: STN was unable to locate or contact the company).
Yet investigators found that some of those targeted companies, including five in California and Arizona, remained in operation despite the FMCSA order.
"Rogue bus companies that compromise public safety are being shut down in California and nationwide," said FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro.
Reasons for company shutdowns include the failure to adequately maintain their buses, inadequate drug and alcohol driver testing programs and widespread hours-of-service violations.
For a copy of the Federal Register announcement, click here.