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Seatbelts for Interstate Buses

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The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) plans to propose rulemaking early next year to require seat belts on motorcoaches.

The DOT has released its Motorcoach Safety Action Plan, which lays out concrete steps for improving motorcoach safety issues such as driver fatigue and inattention, vehicle rollover, occupant ejections and oversight of unsafe carriers.

The comprehensive action plan proposes enhanced regulatory oversight of new and high risk motorcoach operators, as well as the increased use of new technologies. To address driver distraction, it proposes to initiate rulemaking to prohibit texting and limit the use of cell phones and other devices by motorcoach drivers.

It also discusses requiring electronic on-board recording devices on all motorcoaches to better monitor drivers’ duty hours to address fatigue, and enhanced oversight of unsafe carriers.

In addition, the action plan proposes to better protect motorcoach occupants by requiring the installation of seat belts and discusses additional measures such as the establishment of performance requirements for enhanced roof strength, fire safety and emergency egress. It also calls for safety improvements using technologies such as electronic stability control to prevent rollovers.

Update – As of April 25, 2011, this has not yet been approved.  I guess they are still awaiting comments.

Jerry A. Casser, Esq. (Fairfield, NJ Transportation Attorney) www.jcasser.com


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FMCSA New Entrant Safety Regs

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On Wednesday, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) began enforcing its New Entrant Safety Assurance Process Rule, which requires newly registered bus companies to meet stricter safety requirements.

 

This final rule raises the compliance standards for passing new entrant safety audits and requires that new carriers correct safety deficiencies before being granted permanent registration.

 

Under the new requirements, a newly registered bus company will automatically fail its safety audit if violations of any one of 16 essential Federal Regulations are discovered. These Regulations cover controlled substances and alcohol testing, hours-of-service rules, driver qualifications, vehicle condition and carrier insurance responsibility.

 

Failure to pass a new entrant safety audit may result in revocation of a bus company’s registration, unless that company takes corrective action within a time period established by the FMCSA.  Additionally, if certain violations are discovered during roadside inspections, the new bus company may be subject to an expedited safety audit or a compliance review that can result in fines or an out-of-service order.

 

A number of my clients who are new bus companies are receiving letters from the FMCSA advising that they have not responded to audit inquiries.  I am advising every new bus company to be on the look out for the letters, or the telephone calls received, seeking to conduct the audit, and not to ignore them, if they wish to continue in business.

 

 Jerry A. Casser, Esq. (Fairfield, NJ Transportation Attorney) www.jcasser.com


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