How Bus Companies with Poor Safety Records Avoid Detection & What Happens When They Get Caught

Federal law requires bus companies to obtain an assigned US DOT number and to prominently display the company name on each bus in its fleet. If, during a safety inspection, there are safety violations discovered involving either the vehicle or the bus driver an inspection report is prepared. This information is maintained in a national database and is updated with each new inspection. Certain violations, such as permitting an unqualified or impaired driver to drive a bus, are weighted more seriously than minor equipment violations. When a company permits too many violations and/or fails to take corrective action, the Federal Motor Carrier Administration can revoke the company’s operating authority. Unscrupulous companies will join together to share a valid US DOT number and company logo in order to continue operating. In southern California, the FMCSA recently uncovered such a scenario. The FMCSA invoked an emergency power that allows them to shut down a company immediately if they are determined to be an imminent hazard to public safety. These bus companies and their owners can also face civil and criminal penalties.

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