Calls for more consistent bus safety regulations between states

In early February in Yucaipa, California, a horrific crash of a tour bus killed eight people and injured more than 30. It appears that poor maintenance was the main cause. In December 2013 in Southern California, four bus accidents within a week killed two people and injured dozens more. Last February, faulty brakes on a bus returning to Mexico saw it crash, killing eight on board.

These are just a few devastating bus accidents that have federal and state regulators sitting up and asking: Is this the best we can do? With the annual number of bus passenger trips in the U.S. - 700 million -- approaching that of air commuter trips, industry and political insiders are starting to call for a more consistent set of inspection standards, applied more uniformly.

The 4,000 bus companies that cross state lines have to adhere to some basic federal safety standards, although these are administered differently from state to state. In addition, there are different sets of regulations for buses operating only within the state. Current inconsistencies include:

  • Only 23 states (and D.C.) require annual inspections be reported to the state.
  • Private buses such as church or musicians' buses have more lenient rules.
  • Some states use inspection budgets for trucks rather than buses, or vice versa.

As safety standards and checks are improved in the bus industry across the country, all road users will benefit. The good news for California is that, as a state, we are leading the way. The president and CEO of the American Bus Association says that there are a few states that are currently carrying out inspections correctly and consistently, and California is one of them. The commander of the CHP's commercial vehicle department says that the state's program is being used as a basis for the federal program.

Although it is good news that the government is looking for ways to better enforce commercial vehicle regulations, it is still possible that people will be injured in a crash. If that happens, it may be best to talk to an attorney about your options for holding a bus company or driver liable.

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