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Fatal accidents lead to examination of curbside bus industry (two)

Earlier this week, we began an examination of the high rate of fatal bus accidents in curbside bus companies that operate in New Jersey and throughout the country. So far this year, there have been 23 interstate bus accidents in the U.S., during which 33 people have died and more than 400 have been injured.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, curbside bus companies, which keep costs low by picking passengers up on street corners and in parking lots, have a fatal accident rate that is seven times higher than traditional bus operators. Often, these companies commit flagrant and intentional violations of state and federal safety regulations, such as altering logbooks in order to evade driver hour limits or hiring drivers who do not speak English.

However, under the current system, there is little chance that this will improve. The NTSB report states that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which inspects buses and enforces traffic safety regulations, is hugely overburdened. There are approximately 880 federal and state inspectors charged with overseeing 765,000 bus companies throughout the country. This averages out to just about one inspector per 1,000 companies. With in-depth reviews of bus companies that can take up to two weeks, it is no wonder that curbside bus companies' violations of safety regulations are going unnoticed.

Federal lawmakers are working to increase the oversight of discount bus companies, reportedly considering legislation that would increase the number of federal bus inspectors and require bus companies and ticket brokers to disclose the company's safety rating. It remains to be seen whether the proposed legislation will become reality.

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries as a result of a bus company's unsafe practices, please contact Breslin & Breslin for a free consultation with a New Jersey personal injury attorney.

Source: Associated Press, "Curbside buses have higher fatal accident rate," Joan Lowy, Oct. 31, 2011

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