Charter buses are often used by large groups to travel to fun destinations without the headache of driving themselves. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), there are over 4,000 registered for-hire motor coach companies across the country. They are utilized by many different groups, such as schools, churches, and senior citizen organizations. These trips can be fun, but can turn into nightmares when bus drivers cause accidents, resulting in people suffering serious injuries or death.
How Charter Bus Companies’ Practices Cause Deadly Accidents
While a bus driver’s errors—such as speeding, driving when fatigued, or talking on a cell phone—can be the cause of a crash, his company’s practices could be a contributing factor in why the accident occurred. FMCSA’s Look Before You Book campaign is designed to help people avoid these companies when planning a trip using a tour bus. It highlights problems with charter bus companies that contribute to their drivers causing accidents, including:
- Not complying with FMCSA requirements. A noncompliant company may not have a USDOT number and an operating authority registration from FMCSA. It also could fail to maintain insurance coverage of at least $5 million—with disastrous results for accident victims. Carriers are also supposed to provide buses with wheelchair lifts and safe securement areas for people who are disabled, but don’t always comply. FMCSA rates the safety of charter bus companies and gives ratings of Conditional or Unsatisfactory to noncompliant companies.
- Employing unsafe drivers. A charter bus driver is required to have a commercial driver’s license with a passenger endorsement and a valid medical certification that certifies he meets physical qualification requirements. In addition, he must have a safe driving record. Disreputable charter bus companies employ drivers who do not meet these minimal standards. In addition, they may not have policies for safe driving practices, such as prohibiting using a cellphone or texting while driving and drug and alcohol testing programs.
- Allowing bus drivers to drive for too long. Charter bus companies are supposed to follow the federal hours-of-service regulations limiting how long a driver can drive. Untrustworthy companies allow their drivers to operate their buses for more than 10 consecutive hours and exceed the number of hours that can be driven when they are driving for seven or more consecutive days.
Charter bus companies engaging in these practices run buses that are not well maintained and hire unsafe drivers. As a result, their passengers are at risk for catastrophic accidents leading to serious injuries. However, they may be entitled to compensation from both the bus driver and the charter bus company employing him.
Were you or a family member injured in a charter bus accident? Our compassionate legal team is experienced in handling these complicated cases. Start an online chat to schedule a free consultation to learn about your legal options and how we can help you.