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Gov't to crack down on unsafe tour bus operators

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 14, 2013 at 2:13 pm •  Published: February 14, 2013

WASHINGTON (AP) — Responding to recent deadly tour bus accidents, teams of federal inspectors will target bus companies with a history of problems as part of a national crackdown aimed at weeding out unsafe operators, the government said Thursday.

Over the next two months, inspectors will examine companies with a history of accidents or whose buses have been pulled off the highway by police and inspectors for safety violations, officials for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said. Inspectors will also physically inspect buses when they visit bus companies, rather than rely only on company maintenance records, as has been past practice, officials said.

The agency is working with state police to step up the number of buses pulled over violations. Federal inspectors will also be combing the agency's databases to find bus companies that share ownership or addresses, officials said.

It is not unusual for bus operators who have been shut down for safety violations to shift their buses and drivers to an affiliated company operating under another name. Safety officials call them "reincarnated" or "chameleon" carriers. Their buses, which are often white with minimal signage or identifying information so that they can more easily be repainted, are sometimes referred to as "ghost" buses.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Anne Ferro, head of the motor carrier administration, also met with bus industry officials and safety organizations Thursday to discuss how the government might ferret out unsafe bus operators.

"We've seen the tragic consequences when motor-coach companies cut corners and do not make safety a top priority," LaHood said in a statement.

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