The Advocate, Frank Tilley/AP

Bus Crash Reveals Safety Scam

October 08, 2008 02:58 PM
by Isabel Cowles
A safety investigation of a Jan. 2 Texas bus crash has revealed a scheme to move unregistered, Mexican-made buses through the United States.

Breach of Bus Safety Standards

On Jan. 2, a bus crashed at 4:35 a.m. in Victoria, Texas. It was en route from Monterrey, Mexico, to its Houston base when the driver fell asleep at the wheel and the bus veered off the road. When he awoke, the driver overcompensated by turning the wheel abruptly, causing the bus to roll onto its side. One passenger, Pedro Mendez of Houston, was killed, and dozens more were injured.

According to Deborah Hersman of the National Transportation Safety Board, the bus should not have been allowed to operate in the United States, as it failed to meet basic U.S. motor carrier standards.

The bus made its way into the United States by bypassing a series of state and federal regulations. The company that owned the vehicle, Capricorn Bus Lines, circumvented regulations by licensing the bus in California then reregistering it in Texas.

According to the Houston Chronicle, Hersman explained, “They go through this third party in Dallas and the third party assists them with registering the bus in California. But the bus never goes to California.”

Because several agencies have varying degrees of jurisdiction over registration regulations, enforcement of them is lax; according to Hersman, “We have no idea how many noncompliant buses are in the country."

Noncompliant buses cost about half as much as buses that fulfill U.S. standards, the Associated Press reported.

No buses are made in the United States. Instead they are manufactured in Canada, Mexico and in Europe and are then required to meet U.S. safety standards. But if there is no unified enforcement of those standards, poorer-quality buses will continue to make their way into the U.S. transportation system, the Chronicle said.

Reference: National Transportation Safety Board

Related Topic: Licensing scandals


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