-From Anne S. Ferro, Administrator: I am pleased to provide the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) response to
the National Transportation Safety Board's (NTSB) letter regarding Safety Recommendations
H-12-29 through H-12-31. The Agency acknowledges the NTSB's thorough investigation into
the May 31, 2011, motorcoach crash near Doswell, Virginia. The FMCSA shares your concern
and commitment to transportation safety, especially pertaining to passenger carrier safety.
Safety is FMCSA's number one priority and clearly shapes the Agency's agenda to ensure the
safe operation of commercial motor vehicles (CMV) and to hold unsafe companies accountable
for achieving safety compliance. The FMCSA does this through a mix of programs, rules, and
enforcement tools framed on three guiding principles: to raise the safety bar to enter the industry;
to require high safety standards to remain in the industry, and to remove high-risk carriers,
drivers and service providers from operation. Everything the Agency does can be tied back to
one or more of these principles. .
Following the Doswell, Virginia, and other fatal motorcoach bus crashes along the Interstate 95
corridor, FMCSA launched an unprecedented investigation into bus companies operating in
flagrant violation ofthe Agency's safety regulations. This investigation culminated into nine
separate enforcement actions against three passenger carrier networks based on extensive
information collected by FMCSA safety investigators and inspection data collected by State law
enforcement partners during multiple bus safety strike forces and investigations. The Agency's
investigations and data analysis found multiple patterns of serious safety violations by three
networks of bus companies that deliberately structured their operations to evade Federal laws
and regulations. The companies, which carried almost 2,000 passengers a day, showed flagrant
disregard for the public's safety by using:
• Drivers without valid commercial driver's licenses or medial qualification certificates;
• Drivers who had not been properly drug tested;
• Drivers who had exceeded the hours-of-service limits; and
• Vehicles that were mechanically unsafe and in disrepair.
The Agency continues to investigate companies operating under this type of management
structure and will continue to take appropriate action against any of these companies as
Another way FMC SA is working to achieve higher safety standards and remove unsafe drivers
and carriers is through focused safety strike forces at the busiest travel destinations across the
country and areas of non-traditional, curbside service. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 alone, the
Agency and its State law enforcement partners conducted more than 114,000 inspections and
1,500 compliance reviews and issued 12 imminent hazard orders and 110 unsatisfactory/unfit
determinations or failure to pay out-of-service (OOS) orders to passenger carriers. These were
drastic actions taken against carriers that would not come into compliance with Agency
regulations and had to be removed from service.
In 2012, FMC SA continued its strike force initiatives and conducted safety inspections of
motorcoaches, tour buses, school buses, and other commercial passenger buses in 13 states and
the District of Columbia, including (Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts,
New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and
West Virginia). In FY 2012, FMCSA conducted 124,153 inspections, 1,891 compliance
reviews, issued 30 imminent hazard orders, and 108 unsatisfactory/unfit determinations or failure
to pay OOS orders to passenger carriers. The FMCSA will continue to partner with State and
local law enforcement to take part in the nationwide passenger carrier strike forces to strengthen
commercial bus and driver safety.
In September 2011, the u.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) hosted a National Motorcoach
Safety Summit in Washington, DC, to increase awareness of the importance of motorcoach safety and to energize and empower stakeholders, partners, and the public to take action in making motorcoach transportation safer. To compliment this effort, FMC SA unveiled its "SaferBus Mobile App," a first-of-its-kind, multilingual smartphone and tablet application that gives bus riders a quick and free way to review a bus company's safety record before buying a ticket or booking group travel.
The FMCSA also continues to encourage consumers to review its "Think Safety: Every Trip, Every Time" pre-trip safety checklist available online at the Agency's website. Consumers are also encouraged to report any unsafe bus company, vehicle, or driver to FMCSA through a toll-free hotline at 1-888-DOT-SAFT (1-888-368-7238) or through its online National Consumer Complaint Database. Likewise, FMCSA has actively been implementing the Department's Motorcoach Safety Action Plan (MSAP), first released in November 2009. The MSAP took a fresh look at motorcoach safety issues and identified actions to address outstanding safety problems with schedules for implementation. To date, more than 60 percent of the original FMCSA actions have been completed.
On December 12, 2012, the Department released an updated MSAP. The updated plan highlights the Department's accomplishments from previous years and provides information on safety measures and new initiatives to improve the safety of motorcoach passengers. It reflects the integrated activities of the Department's safety agencies and incorporates the feedback of numerous motorcoach safety stakeholders during the 2011 Motorcoach Safety Summit. It expands on the initial 2009 version by focusing on driver fatigue, driver behavior, vehicle maintenance, operator oversight, crash avoidance measures, and occupant protection. It also includes new requirements and mandates under the "Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act" (MAP-21) reauthorization legislation. The MAP-21 legislation requires various new motorcoach rulemakings and research projects, as well as requirements for improved oversight of motorcoach service providers.
Specific to NTSB Safety Recommendations, H-12-29 through H-12-31, the Agency believes the initiatives outlined below address each of the respective recommendations.
The FMCSA acknowledges NTSB's views on this issue, but does not believe establishing a program to monitor, evaluate, and report on fatigue management programs (FMP) would provide meaningful information to the Agency or advance the cause of roadway safety. The FMCSA believes that the soon-to-be complete North American Fatigue Management Program (NAFMP) will be sufficient for this purpose and that establishing additional reporting and monitoring requirements is unnecessary.
Since 1999, FMC SA has been involved in NAFMP, an initiative which aims to develop, implement, evaluate, and deliver a comprehensive, integrated FMP for the commercial motor carrier industry, operating under various regulatory jurisdictions. There are four phases to the project, three of which have been completed as follows:
• Phase 1 - Involved the identification of FMP technical requirements and developed a comprehensive approach designed specifically for drivers, dispatchers, and company managers.
• Phase 2 - Involved the development of education and training materials and procedures for assessing the effectiveness of an FMP.
• Phase 3 - Involved conducting field operational tests in two stages: protocol development and field testing of the effectiveness of the comprehensive FMP compared to current industry practices. The project is currently in Phase 4, which involves the development and advancement of recommended guidelines, manuals, and other training materials that will be made available to all commercial motor carriers to implement a comprehensive and effective FMP. Presently, the NAFMP modules and implementation manuals have been completed in English and are being translated into French. The NAFMP website which contains the Learning Management System, PowerPoint presentations, interactive exercises, images and videos, and lesson quizzes is still under development. The Agency anticipates the website and NAFMP to be completed by spring 2013. Upon completion, FMCSA will invite NTSB to a formal preview and briefing on the NAFMP initiative.
Additionally, FMCSA has recently published the following three research reports related to motorcoach driver performance and fatigue:
• Motorcoach Driver Fatigue Study
• Investigation of the Effects of Split Sleep Schedules on Commercial Vehicle Driver Safety and Health
In the meantime, FMCSA will continue to work with our stakeholders to encourage and promote the safety benefits of incorporating an FMP in a motor carrier safety environment. Based on the reasons cited above in Safety Recommendation H-12-29, FMCSA respectfully requests that NTSB classify Safety Recommendation H-12-29 as "Open-Acceptable Response."