-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 current hours-of-service (HOS) rules for passenger carrier operations allow up to 10 hours of driving time following 8 consecutive hours off-duty. Driving is prohibited after the operator has accumulated 15 hours of on-duty time following 8 consecutive hours off-duty (15-hour rule). The 15-hour window may be extended by off-duty periods, unlike the 14-hour non-extendable window for drivers of property-carrying vehicles. With regard to weekly limitations, drivers of passenger-carrying vehicles are subject to a 60- or 70-hour rule but, unlike drivers of property carrying vehicles, they may not restart their calculations of weekly limits after 34 consecutive hours off-duty.
In December 2011, at its Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee (MCSAC) meeting, the Agency tasked the committee to begin examining whether HOS requirements for drivers of passenger-carrying vehicles may need to be changed to enhance safety and to provide information, concepts, and ideas that FMC SA should consider relating to HOS requirements for drivers of passenger-carrying vehicles.4 The committee will provide a letter report to FMCSA in 2013.
In addition, FMCSA held two public listening sessions, one in January 20125 at the American Bus Association's Marketplace 2012 in Grapevine, Texas, and the second in October 2012 at the California Bus Association Annual Convention in Santa Barbara, California, to solicit concepts, ideas, and information on its current HOS requirements for motorcoach drivers. Throughout the sessions, the Agency sought information relating to driving time, on-duty time, time-on-task function, and cumulative fatigue. The Agency will consider research reports, recommendations from its MCSAC, and the remarks of listening session participants in determining its next actions in motorcoach HOS. Based on the above, FMC SA respectfully requests that NTSB classify Safety Recommendation H -12-30 as "Open-Acceptable Response."