Bus accident attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm report of the nationwide crackdown on motor coach operators with histories of unsafe practices. Amid these increased investigations, however, passengers continue to be involved in major bus crashes throughout the country.
A party bus company based in Washington DC, for example, was recently shut down by the U.S. Transportation Department. The company, Washington DC Party Shuttle, also operated in New York City and Las Vegas, had a history of mechanical violations, and was ultimately shut down for hiring a driver who tested positive for drugs and alcohol.
According to the DC party bus operator’s shut down order, the investigators found deplorable violations that demonstrated the company’s blatant disregard for passenger safety. Washington DC Party Shuttle apparently consistently used the driver who was known to test positive for controlled substances, and then lied about it to investigators.
It was also found that the company put a bus back on the road that was previously taken out of service before the repairs were made. Inspectors determined that three-fourths of the company’s buses needed to be taken off the road.
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The Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood, stated that the agency is making good on its promise to get unsafe bus companies off the roads for good. Since the fatal California crash that killed eight people, the company has closed eight bus companies. The crash in California was caused by a Mexican operator, Scapadas Magicas LLC.
The agency is employing 54 investigators specifically to target the highest-risk operators, such as Washington DC Party Shuttle, which did business as Onboard DC Tours. According to its website, the company would take passengers to landmarks such as the White House and National Mall along with outings to Mount Vernon in Virginia.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) heightened authority is the result of new transportation laws recently approved by Congress. Beginning on April 1, 2013, the agency’s bus investigators started their work, going out in twos with a federal or state vehicle inspector, evaluating companies and equipment. There are 250 operators the agency is targeting first, all of which have poor safety records, driving violations, or no known maintenance facilities.
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Two weeks after these inspections began, a charter tour bus crashed outside Yosemite National Park injuring 16 people. The bus was operated by Seven Happiness Tour and Charter Inc., which is based in California’s Bay Area. After a tour of Yosemite, the bus was headed to Fresno on California 41 at an unsafe speed. The driver lost control and veered off the road, crossing both lanes of traffic before careening up a dirt embankment and striking a tree. The bus ultimately came to a stop with its two back tires up in the air.
Another bus crash took place just two days before this one outside Dallas, Texas. The bus was carrying passengers to a casino when it overturned on State Highway 161. Most of the 41 passengers that were injured were elderly, and there were two confirmed fatalities. The bus reportedly struck a rubber barrier, careened across two lanes, and hit a concrete barrier on the grassy median, where it landed on its side.
The bus was operated by Cardinal Coach Lines, which is based in Mansfield, Texas. It has not been involved in any other crashes during the past two years.
Bus crash lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm applaud the increased safety efforts by the FMCSA and U.S. Transportation Department. It is extremely important to get buses and their associated companies with unsafe drivers or repeated violations off the road. Bus crashes can be catastrophic because of the large volume of passengers and major machinery involved. If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a bus crash, you may be entitled to compensation for any medical bills, pain and suffering, or lost wages.