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Update on Bus Safety Regulations

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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

 

 


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Beware of the Small Bus Repair Facility

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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


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Sen. Lautenberg – Hearings on Bus Safety

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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


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Atlantic City Bus Inspections

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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


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