Bus Transportation Law Firm

phone icon973-758-1300
divider

Archive


Update on Bus Safety Regulations

/ 0 Comments

Note: This was proposed in December 2009 – apparently nothing has happened and the Agency is awaiting comment from the industry and other interested persons.

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.

We’ll keep on top of these issues and let you know as soon as something has been approved.  In the meantime, if you have specific questions on safety issues, please feel free to contact our firm.  There is a Contact Me link for my Website to the right of this Article and you can email your questions.

Jerry A. Casser – Fairfield, NJ Transportation Law Attorney – www.jcasser.com

 

 


separator

Beware of the Small Bus Repair Facility

/ 0 Comments

When your bus goes into a repair facilility for repair, has it ever occurred to you to check to see if the owner has insurance liability coverage?  Most bus operators would not worry about it, actually they would never think about it because they would probably go to a large repair facility.  But the small bus operator, and especially the minibus operators, would probably go to a small shop for repairs.

The small repair facility, with one or two bays, most likely rents from someone else, and works on a shoestring, so he might not have insurance.  This is crucial if the shop (garage) goes up in flames overnight with your bus inside.  If there is no insurance, who will pay for a new bus and compensate you for lost income?

I just finished a case in which my client’s bus went up in flames in a repair facility and there’s no insurance.  We obtained a Judgment against the owner of the repair facility for more than $50,000, but have little hope of collecting until he tries to set up business again.

Our firm specializes in property damage recovery and subrogation in NJ for buses, limo’s and other commercial vehicles.

Jerry A. Casser – Fairfield, NJ Transportation Law Attorney – www.jcasser.com


separator

Sen. Lautenberg – Hearings on Bus Safety

/ 0 Comments

A Transportation Subcommittee chaired by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) held a Hearing to consider recommendations to improve bus safety.

The recommendations, which came after two serious bus accidents last month, include putting seat belts on buses, equipping buses with stronger roofs and windows, requiring onboard devices to monitor driver fatigue, and improving government oversight of bus companies.

Many feel that the accidents that occurred last month resulted from safety compromises and shortcuts within the bus industry.

Super Luxury Tours, the bus company involved in the NJ Turnpike crash that took place last month, has since had its interstate operating authority suspended by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration pending completion of the investigation of the circumstances and cause of the accident.

Two days earlier, another bus traveling from Foxwoods Casino to NYC had a more serious accident in the Bronx, killing 15 passengers. Less well known was a bus crash on March 21 in New Hampshire which injured nearly 25 people who were travelling from Quebec to Boston.

Those who questioned the suggestions presented at the Hearing said that many of them are already in place. There were also questions about the potential cost of implementing the safety measures. Estimates coming out of the Hearing suggested that it would cost $13,000 to $15,000 to equip buses with seat belts, as well as another $75,000 per bus to meet the other safety recommendations.

Source: Jersey Journal, “U.S. Sen. Lautenberg heads hearing on recommendations to improve safety of tour buses,” Mike Frassinelli, 30 Mar 2011.

Update:  I checked with my experts in bus seating and the cost to retrofit a bus for seatbelts is about $30,000.

Jerry A. Casser, Esq. – Fairfield, NJ Transportation Law Attorney –www.jcasser.com


separator

Atlantic City Bus Inspections

/ 0 Comments

Last August I commented on my presentation to the Governor’s Red Tape Review Panel on issues confronting the NJ Bus Industry.  One of the issues which I raised involved bus inspections conducted by the NJ MVC onsite at the casino’s which created a poor impression to the bus passengers who might believe that they were traveling on unsafe buses.  I received  further inquiries on this issue from the staffs of several Legislators who were interested in addressing this issue with new legislation.  There is now pending an amendment to existing legislation that would prohibit bus inspections on casino property and require all inspections to be done off-site.  I will provide an update once the legislation has been passed.

Jerry A. Casser, Esq. – Fairfield, NJ Transportation Attorney -www.jcasser.com


separator

Seatbelts for Interstate Buses

/ 0 Comments

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


separator

FMCSA New Entrant Safety Regs

/ 0 Comments

 

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


separator

NTSB Chairman Emphasizes Bus Safety

/ 0 Comments

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chairman Mark V. Rosenker was the keynote speaker at the Annual Meeting of the Greater NJ Motorcoach Association (GNJMA) in Atlantic City on June 3rd. He urged New Jersey based motorcoach operators to take action when accidents occur and make safety improvements that will bring the industry closer to an accident free environment.

Chairman Rosenker focused on some of the most notable highway accidents in recent years and the safety recommendations that have resulted from the NTSB investigations.

Rosenker pointed out that tragedies like the collapse of the Boston “Big Dig” tunnel ceiling panel and the Minneapolis bridge not only attract huge amounts of media attention, but also shake Americans’ confidence in their nation’s roadways. “Our job at the NTSB is to restore the confidence of the traveling public after a major transportation disaster by conducting an unbiased, independent investigation to determine the cause of the accident and find solutions to prevent it from happening again.”

In his closing remarks, Rosenker called on the New Jersey motorcoach industry to “find a maintenance improvement, implement a new operational policy, provide better training, embrace a new technology, but take action and do something different.” Rosenker concluded by saying, “Therefore, my charge to you is, when accidents occur, which they inevitably will, take action, and do something to make your company a safer place for your passengers, your employees, your families, and your community.”

GNJMA is a regional organization of motorcoach operators for which I serve as General Counsel. We represent the interests of motorcoach operators in our Region and promote safe and cost efficient operations. For information on membership, please contact me.

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


separator


separator