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Preventing New York bus accidents requires planning

Charter bus accidents can cause injuries and even fatalities for New York travelers. Accordingly, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) has issued an advisory on hiring a motor coach company for a trip. This information may help select a company from the more than 4,000 registered interstate carriers in the United States.

An interstate motor carrier must have a U.S. Department of Transportation number and FMSCA operating authority registration and keep insurance coverage of $5 million. They must also provide accessibility for passengers with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Department of Transportation’s ADA regulations.

The FMSCA’s safety ratings should be consulted. A satisfactory rating is the highest rating, while a conditional rating indicates a higher safety risk. A bus company with an unsatisfactory rating is not permitted to operate. Conditional and unsatisfactory ratings indicate that the motorcoach company lacks adequate safety management controls that ensure compliance with safety fitness standards imposed by the FMSCA. A bus company was not evaluated by the FMSCA, if it does not have a rating.

Riders should also review the FMCSA’s Safety Measurement System. This system assesses a carrier’s safety and compliance performance in Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories.

Motorcoach companies must employ drivers who received a commercial driver’s driver license with a passenger endorsement when they drive vehicles designed to transport at least 16 people. Companies should prohibit their drivers from using electronic devices and texting while driving. These companies should also have a testing program for drugs and alcohol.

A back-up driver may be necessary for extended trips. Drivers for interstate carriers must comply with federal hours-of-service regulations that prohibit them from driving more than 10 consecutive hours. These drivers cannot operate a bus, if they were on duty for 60 hours in any seven consecutive days or for more than 70 hours in any eight consecutive days, if the bus company operates every day of the week.

Victims of these crashes or other mass transit accidents should expeditiously seek legal assistance to determine whether a bus company or driver was negligent or violated any federal laws. Legal representation can protect rights in legal proceedings and negotiations with carriers and insurance companies.