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Feds: Lack of oversight contributes to truck, bus crashes

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The federal agency in charge of inspecting commercial trucks and buses has not been doing enough to keep our highways and streets safe, the National Transportation Safety Board says. It's calling for a probe into why the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is failing to notice and respond decisively to red flags indicating substandard trucking and bus companies.

The NTSB looked at two truck accidents and two bus accidents in which 25 people were killed and 83 people injured and found "serious questions" about the degree to which inspectors for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration are doing their jobs.

Last March, a tractor-trailer in Kentucky slammed into the back of an SUV with eight people inside. The SUV burst into flames after it was rammed into another car. Six people inside the SUV died.

An investigation by state police and the NTSB showed that the trucker was keeping two logs of his hours worked. One log was for inspectors; it showed that he followed regulations restricting the number of consecutive hours and days he could spend behind the wheel. The other log was the real record of his work hours; it showed he was in violation of regulations, and was in his tenth straight day behind the wheel of his big rig.

The motor carrier administration had inspected the trucking company just five days before the horrific crash, yet didn't check to see if drivers were complying with regulations restricting their hours of service.

In another truck accident, this one in Tennessee, an 18-wheeler crashed and hit eight other vehicles. Two people were killed and six others injured.

Again, the driver was in violation of regulations limiting his driving hours, as were four other truckers with the company. The motor carrier administration knew the company had repeatedly broken those rules, but allowed it to carry on its business regardless.

When someone is injured due to a trucker's fatigue or refusal to follow regulations, the accident victim should speak with an attorney experienced in helping people obtain compensation for medical bills, lost wages and other damages.

Source: The Herald Bulletin, "Government oversight of bus, truck industries faulted," Nov. 7, 2013

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