The tour bus crash on Thursday, which injured 55 passengers, has raised questions about the bus company’s safety record.
The Da Zhen bus company is on “Alert Status” with the federal government, as the NBC4 Los Angeles I-Team found out while studying the company’s federal safety inspections.
What is “Alert Status”? This classification means the company has been identified for its poor performance record and could be subject to more frequent surprise inspections, according to transportation experts.
Paul Hedlund, an engineer and lawyer who litigates transportation accidents, said, “It’s a poor safety record… It’s not horrible, but it should be better.”
The I-Team found that the bus company had three violations for “unsafe driving” during inspections this year, conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). There were two violations for speeding, and one for following too closely behind other cars.
“There’s no excuse for a tour bus speeding like this,” Hedlund said.
The FMCSA gave Da Zhen a score of 56.3 percent. This indicates that the company is worse than the majority of other tour bus operators. If a company scores over 50% in that category, they are put on “Alert Status.”
Regarding bus maintenance, the I-Team found that Da Zhen has had 28 inspections in the last two years. From 11 inspections, they found 25 violations. In 2012, there were two cases of buses being taken out of service.
However, the company has passed all of its driver fitness inspections, including drug and alcohol tests. Before Thursday’s crash, Da Zhen has had no history of crashes in the last two years.
The I-Team called the company and asked them for a comment about it’s safety record and the recent tour bus crash; they were told that there was no one around.