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Fatal accidents more common for curbside bus companies

According to recent federal data, curbside buses, which pick up passengers from street corners and similar locations rather than requiring passengers to board buses from fixed locations or stations, have a higher rate of fatal accidents than other commercial buses. Authorities claim that many companies engaged in the curbside bus business attempt to avoid complying with safety requirements to save costs, resulting in a fatal accident rate that is a staggering seven times the rate of other buses operating in interstate routes.

A report issued by the National Transportation Safety Board stated these accident statistics. The data revealed that approximately half of curbside bus companies operate ten buses at most, and the majority of the companies have been in operation for ten years or less. This is troubling, because newer companies with fewer buses tend to have a higher accident rate than well-established, widely-used bus services.

Specifically, the curbside bus operators had a fatal accident rate of 1.4 per 100 vehicles during approximately a five year period, compared to only 0.2 per 100 vehicles for other commercial bus companies. The majority of curbside bus companies operate in the Northeast, Midwest, and California.

Critics say that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration lacks sufficient personnel and resources to adequately oversee the interstate bus industry, resulting in curbside bus companies being able to successfully dodge safety regulations. There are approximately 765,000 bus companies, but only 878 safety inspectors employed by the agency, a ratio of just over one inspector for every 1,000 bus operators.

After a recent slew of fatal bus accidents, several federal legislators have called for increasing the scrutiny of the curbside bus industry. It remains to be seen whether lawmakers and traffic safety officials will create additional regulations to protect bus passengers.

Source: Associated Press, "Curbside buses have higher fatal accident rate," Joan Lowy, Oct. 31, 2011

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