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Lack of oversight, more fatal bus accidents

Buses travel cross country, carrying dozens of passengers at a time. When traveling at high speeds and for long hours, these trips can be dangerous, even without considering maintenance issues. Before buying a bus ticket, or letting your college student take a commercial bus home for the weekend, be aware that some of these buses are not getting appropriate inspections, despite the record number of deadly crashes throughout the nation.

The lack of oversight for the buses and other commercial vehicles means that more passengers are at risk of serious and deadly accidents. A state-certified vehicle inspection station was cited after it failed to notice defects that caused a fatal accident. It then opened another station and continued operations with markedly low standards of service inspection. More than half the states have no inspection requirements for commercial vehicles, like passenger buses.

The lax commercial vehicle inspections in several states raise questions about the lack of oversight. It suggests that government regulators aren't attentive to the safety of bus passengers. While federal regulations require annual commercial vehicle inspections, those inspections can be performed by state personnel or private garages. In some states the inspections can be performed by the company itself.

New safety legislation approved by the Senate this month would force the federal government to evaluate state inspection programs, but it was stalled in the House. Throughout the United States, records have indicated that major bus accidents have been related to defective parts and failed maintenance inspections.

Source: Associated Press, "Bus inspections get lax oversight despite crashes," Danny Robbins, April 1, 2012.

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