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Tour bus crashes: NTSB faults federal agency for lax oversight

The NTSB is calling for a probe of the government agency charged with ensuring the safety of commercial vehicles.
November 7, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Federal investigators looking into a deadly tour bus crash in the Inland Empire are demanding answers. They're laying the blame for the February crash near Yucaipa at the feet of the agency charged with preventing this kind of tragedy.

California Highway Patrol investigators found that it was catastrophic brake failure that caused the bus to crash. The National Transportation Safety Board agreed. But the NTSB says if the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration had done a proper inspection of the bus, it might not have been on the road in the first place.

The crash killed eight people and seriously injured 11 people on Feb. 3 when the driver of a tour bus heading from Big Bear Lake back to Mexico lost control and slammed into a pickup truck on Highway 38, east of Mentone.

After a long investigation, the NTSB determined all six brakes on the bus were defective. But the Motor Carrier Safety Administration had apparently inspected the bus just one month prior to the crash and said it was good to go.

Now, with a number of other high-profile bus and truck crashes across the nation, the NTSB is speaking out against the Motor Carrier Safety Administration, saying they have serious questions about how well the agency is doing its job.

"We are continuously looking for new ways to make our investigation methods even more effective so we can shut down unsafe companies before a crash occurs and will thoroughly review the NTSB's findings," the Motor Carrier Safety Administration said in a statement.

The agency pointed out investigators did end up shutting down the tour bus company that owned the bus in that fatal crash. But the NTSB says the Motor Carrier Safety Administration needs to act before crashes occur, not just after high-visibility events.


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