On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced that they shut down 52 motorcoach companies and removed 340 vehicles from the road in a major nationwide crackdown on unsafe carriers. The shutdown comes just eight months after the agency launched “Operation Quick Strike,” a campaign focused on shutting down companies that put passengers at risk and educating the public on safe motorcoach travel.
Operation Quick Strike is part of the agency’s three-phase Motorcoach Safety Initiative designed to raise the bar for safety in the motorcoach industry and to strengthen the agency’s oversight methods. As part of the intensified effort, more than 50 specially trained investigators were dispatched from April through November to carefully scrutinize motorcoach companies with poor safety records. The inspectors conducted in-depth reviews into the patterns and practices of the 250 most at-risk companies, which were identified using roadside inspection and safety data. In addition, inspectors assessed the safety levels for more than 1,300 carriers that had minimal inspection history or data with the agency. More than 240 of these carriers have been targeted for follow-up investigations.
The agency reported that 20 companies were immediately shut-down for violations “posing an imminent hazard to the public.” The remaining 32 motorcoach companies were issued “unsatisfactory” safety ratings and shut down after failing to remedy critical and acute violations. Twenty-eight others who were given the same rating took corrective action to fix the safety violations and avoided shut down. The agency also reported that 340 vehicles, of the more than 1,300 vehicles that were inspected, were put out-of-service for safety and maintenance violations.
According to Anne S. Ferro, administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the 52 companies that were shut down “put safety by the wayside in order to compete in a very tight market.” Company-wide failures to adequately maintain their buses, inadequate drug and alcohol driver testing programs, and widespread violations of “hours-of service” rules that limit how long a driver can work without a break were among the reasons the 52 motorcoach companies were shut down.