No Oversight for Limo drivers, didn’t pay off
Late last month, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration wrapped up intensive training of its new Quick Strike team, a group of 50 passenger carrier safety investigators whose goal is to target serious regulatory violators nationwide.
Our trucking accident attorneys understand that the teams have already begun to dive head-first into action, so far shuttering operations of three companies deemed to pose an immediate danger to public safety. One of those companies, Best Limo Service, is based in Tucker Georgia – just a half hour northeast of Atlanta.
The FMCSA’s team reported that the carrier’s operations were ordered to be halted immediately, due to the severity of the hazard posed to the public.
U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was quoted as saying that the traveling public has a right to expect safety standards will be met when they climb aboard a commercial bus, van or other vehicle. He further reiterated that carriers that flagrantly break the law and put people’s lives in jeopardy won’t be allowed to continue operations.
While Best Limo Service is headquartered in Georgia, it has branches throughout the southeastern U.S., providing charter services and tours to thousands of passengers annually.
But an investigation launched in mid-April found serious federal rule violations, which revealed a total disregard for the safety of passengers.
In one instance, a driver had tested positive for drugs and another who had a suspended commercial driver’s license. And yet, these individuals were allowed to continue to work for the company as drivers, transporting passengers.
The company was additionally found to be failing to monitor each driver’s compliance with federal hours-of-service mandates. This resulted in drivers who were overly-fatigued and allowed to transport passengers.
The violations didn’t even stop there. The vehicle maintenance program operated by the company was clearly not doing enough to ensure that passenger vehicles were in proper working order. An on-site inspection of three of the company’s buses ended with all three vehicles sidelined out-of-service for critical safety violations.
This is only the beginning of this effort, according to the FMCSA, which also plans to involve law enforcement personnel, advocates and industry insiders into the fold.
It’s encouraging that over the last half a dozen years, the number of motorcoach safety inspections has tripled, up to almost 34,000 in 2012. That year, there were 880 drivers and more than 1,830 vehicles placed out of service.
However, companies continue to flout safety rules and regulations. Companies cut corners to save money. Drivers put their own bottom line ahead of their passengers’ safety. Investigators learned the company failed to make sure drivers weren’t abusing drugs or alcohol or ignoring hours of service rules. Additionally, qualified mechanics were not employed by the company, as required in order to ensure proper maintenance of vehicles.
The limo service shut-down in Tucker was followed shortly thereafter by the shut down of a Niagara Falls passenger carrier, which operates a small number of tour buses in the area.
The FMCSA encourages riders to “Look Before You Book” by checking a motorcoach company’s credentials and safety history.