April 3, 2012

Bus Safety Oversight Called into Question

by Levin & Perconti

Yesterday, BostonGlobe.com published an article detailing highway safety advocate’s continued desire to rigorously enforce state inspections on buses and other types of large commercial vehicles by government regulators. Our Chicago accident lawyers read that after a series of fatal accidents, these highway safety advocates are questioning the oversight methods of the National Transportation Safety Board for their inspection programs in Texas, Mississippi, as well as, Illinois. The article reveals that over forty people have died in these accidents, yet the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has failed to act upon directed recommendations to these carriers.

Under current guidelines, federal rules require that commercial vehicles be inspected annually. These inspections are permitted to be conducted by state workers, private garages, or even the carriers operating the vehicles that are to be inspected. Additionally, our Illinois accident attorneys learned that passing a roadside inspection can also meet the legal requirements as longs as it occurs within the previous year. However, it is reported that over half of our nation’s states maintain no recommended inspection requirements. This means that it is often left up to the motor carriers to implement their own inspection requirements.

A Chicago truck accident lawyer at our firm learned that on March 14 a legislative bill was approved by the Senate which would require the federal government to evaluate state inspection programs. However, the legislation has failed to make any headway in the House of Representatives. In a statement released by a trucking industry consultant – who was once the head of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration – it was revealed that the FMCSA does not have the resources and funding in order to properly and adequately monitor state commercial vehicle inspections.

In light of this, documents pertaining to a particularly devastating bus accident – deemed one of the worst in the history of the United States – have been released. The bus accident in question, which transpired in August 2008, killed at least 17 people and injured over a dozen more. It was later determined by the National Transportation Safety Board that the cause of the accident was a blown tire. Additional evidence revealed that an inspection had been done on the bus eight days prior to the accident and the bus had passed – despite numerous cited defects.

Our Chicago truck accident attorneys at Levin & Perconti know that the safety of large commercial vehicles should always remain a top priority of government regulators. When unsafe motor vehicles travel on our nation’s roadways, the risk for devastating accidents resulting in injury or death dramatically increases.