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New York Tour Bus Accidents Draw Attention to Safety Deficiencies
A devastating series of tour bus crashes in New York over the past month has highlighted the need for stricter enforcement of safety regulations. On August 3rd a tour bus returning to New Jersey from Niagara Falls overturned on a rain-slicked roadway. 19 people were taken to the hospital. Governor Cuomo Responds to Tour Bus Accidents In response to the crashes Governor Cuomo announced the suspension of the operating licenses of 8 charter and tour bus companies for repeatedly failing safety inspections. The companies were singled out because each one of them had failed at least three inspections of buses and/or drivers over the past six months. Although the New York State Department of Transportation conducts over 160,000 schedules safety inspections a year and 120,000 surprise inspections, these clearly are not adequately addressing the problems with motor coach safety. The agency is responding by hiring 20 additional inspectors to focus on increased inspections for bus companies who have repeatedly had problems with safety inspections.
Safety Regulations in New York State In New York, bus drivers carrying passengers are responsible for completing safety checklists either prior transporting any passengers and must report any deficiencies to the bus company or their representative immediately upon their discovery. Tour bus drivers must inspect the brakes, tires, lights, mirrors, wheels and rims, emergency exits and equipment as well as the steering columns. If they become aware of a problem during a trip, they must report it for immediate correction. Regulations Fail to Address Driver Fatigue The most serious danger to passengers cannot be discovered by a checklist. According to an Amalgamated Transit Union report, a ten-year Department of Transportation study revealed driver fatigue is the number one cause of all motor coach fatalities. The condition of the bus itself was the second followed by the medical condition of the bus driver. Although the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration enforces time restrictions on the driving time of all bus drivers, the agency may not be doing enough to address the causes of these bus accidents in New York. Tour bus companies frequently push motor coach drivers into working on short notice or extended shifts, endangering the lives of everyone on board. Until motor coach companies are held accountable for these careless infractions, these violations will continue and lives will be senselessly lost.
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