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Unsafe Oklahoma bus companies may close under new regulations

Many Oklahoma residents use mass transit for getting to work conveniently and affordably. Unfortunately, however, injuries suffered in bus accidents are often very serious. According to the most recent data from the Federal Motor Carrier Administration, in 2011, 283 people were killed in bus accidents across the nation, and 24,000 people were injured in bus crashes the same year.

The FMCA, armed with new regulations, is taking these types of accidents seriously and may close down companies with multiple violations, even if more recent inspections have found the companies have not committed a specific violation that warrants closure. The aim of the new regulations is to give the FMCA more discretion in closing down companies with repeat violations.

The National Transportation Safety Board requested that the administration be looked into back in November, noting a number of fatal truck and bus crashes that happened under the former inspection system.

A California tour bus company, for example, was found to have used a bus with faulty brakes, and seven passengers died in a resulting crash. Two more of this company's buses also had major mechanical issues. It was revealed that the company was not following inspection protocols. The new regulations are aimed at preventing such oversights.

When people use mass transportation, they are putting their lives and safety in the hands of the operator of the vehicle and the operator's employer. Bus accidents are often particularly serious because of the sheer size and weight of the vehicles involved, and victims of should be aware of their rights.

If a bus accident occurs and the ensuing investigation reveals that the vehicle was not mechanically sound, then victims have legal options for holding the operating company accountable.

In addition, bus drivers are as susceptible to distraction as the average motorist, but commercial vehicle operators are nonetheless legally held to a higher safety standard as professional drivers.

Source: Oklahoma News 9, "Shutting down unsafe bus companies to get easier," Joan Lowy, Jan. 17, 2014

Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, "Commercial Motor Vehicle Facts -- March 2013," U.S. Dept. of Transportation

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