The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration had the chance to prevent a fatal bus crash in Virginia on Tuesday and blew it, according to a report from USA Today.
Four people died and 54 were injured when a bus operated by Sky Express Inc. of Charlotte, North Carolina (NC), crashed Tuesday, May 31, on Interstate 95 about 30 miles north of Richmond, Virginia (VA).
The accident occurred just before 5 o’clock in the morning. The bus driver, Kin Yiu Cheung, 37, was charged with reckless driving by the Va. state police.
For a summary of the crash, the circumstances surrounding it, and why this looks like a typical "drowsy driving" case, go to my analysis on the Egerton Law website.
Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood harshly rebuked the FMCSA Wednesday and closed a loophole that gave Sky Express a 10-day extension rather than be shut down on May 28. The bus company was given an "unsatisfactory" rating on April 12, which would have allowed it to be shut down the next month.
"I’m extremely disappointed that this carrier was allowed to continue operating unsafely when it should have been placed out of service," LaHood said in a written statement to USA Today.
"On my watch, there will never be another extension granted to a carrier we believe is unsafe," he said.
Given what’s happened on it thus far, LaHood’s watch may not last much longer.
Eight bus companies facing closure have received extensions this year, according to the DOT. Sky Express buses were involved in four crashes during a two-year assessment period that ended this May. Intercity bus companies, which carry 750 million passengers a year, have been plagued by a string of fatal crashes this year.
This crash may trigger investigations that may reveal widespread negligence in the intercity bus industry. Political officials and other have called for reform. A bill that would make the industry safer is in Congress – stalled.
Well, the horse is out of the stall, and out of the barn. The time for reform has come.