The U.S. Department of Transportation is making it harder for unsafe bus and truck operators to stay in business and making rule-breaking more costly.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration shut down eight companies in the past four months that it deemed were an “imminent hazard” posing an immediate risk to the public.
Seven of those companies were bus operators. Several fatal, highly publicized bus accidents prompted a crackdown on the motor coach industry this spring.
“This year has been the worst period in recent history for motor coach safety, with six crashes causing 25 deaths,” FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro said last month.
She said the agency declared 18 bus companies ‘unsatisfactory’ and has proposed rating another 15 the same. If a carrier presents a severe risk, the agency doesn’t wait until a 45-day appeal period is complete, said Ferro, but issues an imminent hazard out-of-service order.
The one out-of-service order slapped on a trucking business this year went to a Tennessee-based truck driver, the FMCSA said. Further details were not released.
The agency is also slapping more fines on carriers that violate its rules. Federal truck and bus safety penalties jumped 23 percent in 2010 to $36.2 million.
The total number of cases resulting in enforcement penalties increased 28 percent over 2009, rising to 7,325. That’s a 79 percent increase in cases settled since 2005.
Contact William B. Cassidy at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @wbcassidy_joc