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Congress Passes Improved Bus Safety Law

Oct 1, 2014 - Articles - by Dodson & Hooks, APLC

With high airfares and the price of gas at the highest rates in recent history, low-cost bus travel has become more popular with many Americans. However, recent bus accidents involving low-cost carriers such as Megabus have brought the safety of these bus lines to the forefront of many consumers’ minds.

In response to this, Congress has passed a new law to make it easier for consumers to access safety information about bus lines. The law was originally proposed by Sen. Charles Schumer in response to the many bus accidents involving low-cost bus carriers, including a 2011 crash in the Bronx that killed 15 people. President Obama signed the bill into law.

Despite many bus lines having poor safety records, it was difficult for consumers to find easy-to-understand safety information before the law was proposed. Under the new law, Schumer commented, “Bus companies are no longer be able to mask poor safety records and consumers are now able to see, before they purchase a ticket, whether the bus they are considering getting on is a safe one.”

Requirements of the New Law

The law requires the Federal Motor Carriage Safety Administration (FMCSA) to create a safety ratings system that would allow consumers to compare the safety record of bus companies and to reevaluate on an annual basis each carrier that primarily serves urban markets and carries a high number of passengers. To make the ratings system as simple as possible for consumers to understand, Schumer is urging the FMCSA to adopt a letter ratings systems that is similar to academic grades.

In addition to the ratings system, the new law requires the Department of Transportation (DOT) to make the ratings more accessible to the public. To carry this out, the law proposes that the DOT consider posting the ratings on buses, where tickets are sold and at bus stations.

With the easily understood and accessible ratings system, the law is designed to empower consumers to compare the safety records among the bus lines and to make an informed decision when choosing a bus line to patronize. In addition, it is Congress’ hope that the ratings system will improve overall safety by rewarding bus companies that maintain a strong safety history and encouraging those that do not to improve their safety records.

The new legislation gives consumers a powerful new tool to stay safe when they travel by bus. However, a strong safety record does not necessarily mean that the bus line is immune to bus accidents. If you or a loved one has been injured in a bus accident, contact an experienced personal injury attorney. An attorney can investigate the causes of the accident and work to hold the responsible parties accountable.

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