In our last post, we were talking about a tour bus crash that resulted in 15 fatalities and multiple serious injuries. Although the accident occurred far from Florida, the long-term impact of the accident will likely be felt nationwide, especially in states like ours with large concentrations of tour bus destinations.
While the business of discount tour buses has grown, regulation of the industry has stood still, according to safety experts and politicians. The rules are lax, and enforcement is even more so. These buses transport millions of passengers a year, but the companies can hire pretty much whoever they want, the buses don’t have seatbelts, and inspections rely on handwritten logbooks kept by the drivers.
If you have a commercial driver’s license issued by the state, you are qualified to be a tour bus driver. You don’t have to go through a background check, and you don’t have to sit through any additional training or safety reviews. Even with a long record of DWIs, you still qualify.
Tour bus companies are regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Transportation. The regulations ask little of drivers: Drivers can only drive 10 hours during their 15-hour workdays. To prove that this restriction is followed, each driver must keep a daily log of his or her time off, time driving and time on duty but not behind the wheel.
In our next post, we’ll discuss how these regulations are enforced.
New York Times, “Bus overturns on Bronx highway, killing 14,” Robert D. McFadden, 03/12/11
New York Times, “Lax Rules for Discount Buses Cited After I-95 Crash,” By Michael M. Grynbaum and Patrick Mcgeehan, 03/14/11