Advocates Testifies Before Congress on Safety of Curbside Motorcoaches

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Jeremy Gunderson
March 2, 2006 (202) 408-1711 x27

ADVOCATES TESTIFIES BEFORE CONGRESS ON SAFETY OF CURBSIDE MOTORCOACHES
Safety Group Calls for Report to Congress on Maverick Buses and
Urges Dramatic Improvements in Weak Federal Agency Oversight

Washington, D.C. -- Jacqueline S. Gillan, Vice President of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates), testified today before the Subcommittee on Highways, Transit, and Pipelines, House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, U.S. House of Representatives, on the safety of what are called "curbside" buses.

This is a relatively new transportation phenomenon of bargain-fare, inter-city motorcoaches that pick up and discharge passengers on urban, downtown street corners instead of bus terminals. While curbside buses are subject to federal regulation, and their drivers must have a commercial drivers license (CDL) with a special bus endorsement, they have gained a reputation for sub-standard vehicle and traffic safety practices. Some operators do not even have federal registration.

Gillan testified that little is known about curbside motorcoach operations, including how many companies are evading federal and state safety requirements, and how much oversight the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the states conduct, especially regarding dangers associated with their operation. "At the top of our list of recommendations," she said, "is for this committee to require a detailed oversight report on curbside motorcoach operating safety. The federal government should conduct an in-depth evaluation of these motorcoach operations to identify how many there are, how they successfully evade federal and state safety compliance and inspection, and what needs to be done to ensure a high level of public safety."

Her statement also criticized the lack of FMCSA oversight activity, including the absence of regular and thorough inspections and adequate bus driver training, and stated that the agency "suffers from major data deficiencies that limit identification of unsafe motorcoach carriers and drivers." Gillan emphasized that "Despite the widespread use of motorcoach transportation in our everyday lives, the public is completely in the dark about the safety of motorcoach operators because of chronic and continuing failures by the FMCSA to exercise its legal authority to regulate the safety of this industry."

"Both FMCSA and the states are failing to properly oversee and evaluate motorcoach safety at every level of analysis - company, driver, and vehicle," an irate Gillan continued. "It is unimaginable that this kind of government dereliction of public safety assurance and oversight would be tolerated for commercial airline travel."

Citing several examples of severe motor coach crashes in recent years and state data deficiencies, Advocates' testimony ended with additional recommendations (besides the report to Congress): Require stringent state bus inspection programs; upgrade safety data reporting; increase compliance reviews; improve testing requirements on the knowledge and skills needed to operate a motorcoach; and require behind-the-wheel training.

A complete copy of the testimony is available on Advocates' website: www.saferoads.org

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For further information, contact Jeremy Gunderson, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety,
202-408-1711 or jgunderson@saferoads.org


Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety is a coalition of consumer, health, safety and insurance companies working together to advance highway and auto safety.

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