NJ MVC Surprises Charter Buses With Safety Inspections

JERSEY CITY — The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) conducted a surprise safety inspection today of charter buses traveling in the area of Liberty State Park as part of its partnership with the federal government to try to reduce the number of crashes and fatalities on the Garden State’s busy highways.

The inspection comes as summer officially begins and more and more vacationers turn to commercial buses for safe and reliable transportation.

To further help travelers stay safe, the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today demonstrated its new SaferBus application that gives bus riders a quick and free way to review a bus company’s safety record before buying a ticket or booking group travel.

“As the peak summer travel season begins and consumers look to commercial buses to enjoy vacations and visit family and friends, our agency is doing everything possible to make bus travel safe,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro. “By using FMCSA’s robust safety data on commercial bus companies, which comes from inspections like this one today, consumers can make smart safety decisions about the bus companies they choose. We encourage riders to always think safety first, and visit www.fmcsa.dot.gov or download the SaferBus app before buying a ticket or boarding a bus.”

“From interstate highways to local neighborhood streets, the MVC remains focused on one thing – safety,” said MVC Chairman and Chief Administrator Raymond P. Martinez. “Throughout the year, our skilled and thorough inspection teams work diligently to ensure that the millions of people who rely on commercial bus service for work and pleasure have a safe, comfortable ride to their destination.”

Today’s inspection comes just weeks after the FMCSA’s unprecedented crackdown on unsafe and unscrupulous charter bus companies along the Route I-95 corridor. On May 30, the FMCSA conducted the single largest crackdown in its history by shutting down 26 bus operators between New York and Florida that had multiple safety violations and a continuous pattern of using drivers without valid commercial driver licenses or medical qualification certificates. None of the bus companies were from New Jersey.

There are nearly 6,000 interstate commercial passenger carriers operating in the United States today, which includes privately operated motorcoach, school bus and tour bus companies. According to the American Bus Association’s latest research, there were more than 700 million motorcoach passenger trips in 2009.

New Jersey is considered to have one of the top inspection programs in the country. In 2011, the MVC’s inspection team, in conjunction with local and state law enforcement, inspected 8,370 commercial buses in terminals across the state and 1,193 buses along the roadways.

The SaferBus app, designed for the Apple iPhone and iPad, can be downloaded for free by visiting the Apple iTunes Store or by going to the FMCSA’s “Look Before You Book” website at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/saferbus.

A search of the bus company’s name or USDOT registration number will give the potential rider the bus company’s safety record, notification if the bus company is allowed to operate operating, plus, an opportunity to report a safety complaint with the federal government.

Today’s inspection (weather permitting) was a Level 1 North American Standard Inspection that included an examination of the driver license, medical examiner’s certificate and Skill Performance Evaluation certificate, alcohol and drugs, driver’s record of duty status as required, hours of service, seat belt, vehicle inspection reports, brake systems, coupling devices, exhaust systems, frames, fuel systems, lighting devices (headlamps, tail lamps, stop lamps, turn signals and lamps, flags on projecting loads), securing cargo, steering mechanisms, suspensions, tires, van and open-top trailer bodies, wheels, rims and hubs, windshield wipers and emergency exits and/or electrical cables and systems in engine and battery compartments.

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