Over the last several years, the popularity of dirt cheap bus rides to New York City, Washington, D.C. and Boston have lead to the proliferation of discount interstate motor carriers. However, these buses sometimes employ drivers who are reckless, fatigued, poorly trained, and who cannot communicate in English ! The bus industry says the problem is limited to a small number of rogue operators. The interstate motor carrier industry also notes that what is needed is tougher government enforcement of existing safety regulations. “I question how a company like this is allowed to operate,” American Bus Association president Pete Pantuso said. SkyExpress’ 46 violations for fatigued driving ranked worse than 86 percent of similar companies in that category. According to news reports, the federal Department of Transportation has proposed requiring buses to have electronic on-board recorders to replace easily falsified paper records of driver hours. The proposals also would make it easier to revoke drivers’ commercial licenses following violations.
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety said SkyExpress’s federal safety report is rife with warning signs. It raises questions about tired drivers and driver fitness in particular, said the advocate group’s general counsel, Henry Jasny. In the area of driver fitness, federal records show that SkyExpress has been cited for 24 violations since 2009, including 14 for using drivers who lack English-language skills. Its 99.7 percent rating ranks the company among the worst in that category. “To drive any commercial vehicle in the United States, you have to have English proficiency,” Jasny said. “You don’t have to be fluent but you need to be able to communicate with passengers and law enforcement and understand signs on the highway.” Having represented numerous clients with Commercial Drivers Licenses ("CDLs"), motorcycle operators permits and other special vehicle licensure, Herndon crash injury lawyer Doug Landau asks, " How can anyone who is not proficient in English and not literate get a driver’s license ?" While some signs are "international," the proliferation of digital signs and messaging requires even greater English language skills. "The missing child notices that change frequently, special event signage and radio alerts all require English fluency," notes Virginia highway accident lawyer Landau. Buses are "Common Carriers," and are held to a higher standard of care in court. However, without vigilant enforcement of highway safety rules, these cut-rate bus companies will continue to cut corners in order to maximize profits while putting the traveling public in greater danger on the roads and interstates.