The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has been investigating the usage of buses here in the United States that have been imported from Mexico through the Volvo manufacturing company. These buses are being brought into America as imports and do not meet the standard safety levels that are required in the U.S. and yet they are allowed because they are considered to be a product of international trade.
The investigation began back in 2005 when a Volvo bus owned by Capricorn Bus Lines, a Houston based company, crashed while carrying travelers from Mexico. Yes, there is a safety standard on buses that are imported to the U.S. and yet bus companies have found a way around this rule, a loophole, that allows them to be used here. The loophole is this: as long as the company is using the Mexican standard bus to drive a route between Houston and Mexico, then it is not technically called an import because it continues to travel over the border. Because of this, the bus companies are technically allowed to use a poor quality bus within the United States lines. The accident that occurred in 2005 that sparked this investigation resulted in the death of one man and the injury of another 46 passengers.
The NTSB notes that when the buses are traveling back and forth over the border, there is a person on both the Mexico side and the U.S. side to ensure that both the driver and the passengers were legally allowed into the country. With these strict procedures for people, there was no one to make sure the vehicle itself met the proper requirements, and as a result people are being injured. Even in the event that there was a designated person to evaluate the bus that was going over the border, they most likely would not have noticed anything out of sorts because the average inspector does not actually have access to the buses database. Without access to the database an inspector would have no idea that there were illegal measures taken to register the bus with the foreign loophole.
During the 2005 investigation, the Texas officials had determined that the crash was a result of a driver who was overly tired, that suspicion did not stop the NTSB from looking further into the matter. They discovered that the method in which Capricorn registered their bus was using that specific loophole in the system, and just one year later they were cited by officials for not having license plates on their buses. To further get around the rules, Capricorn then used another busing company to register their plates in California instead of Texas that year. In 2007, after having the CA license plate for a year, Capricorn then sought Texas registration for their plates who documented them as from California rather than Mexico.
Through this loophole the company was able to completely avoid the requirements for safety standards, one that appeared to be entirely legal. Sadly this loophole was large enough for full size buses to be allowed across the border illegally, and yet appear to be fully up to par. The NTSB is concerned that the buses used in the U.S. are created at a variety of different safety levels because none of them are actually manufactured here. Most are created in Canada, Mexico or in Europe and because of that it makes regulating the safety standards much more difficult. The ideal situation would be that all buses are held to one set safety standard, and that just simply is not the case, and that brings great concern to the NTSB. The highway officials and inspectors are therefore unable to evaluate the actual safety for each bus because of the large variety of standards that are used from each of the different manufacturing companies. Bus companies have found a very large loophole around safety, and because of that people may be injured or killed.
Have you or someone you know been injured in a bus accident? Perhaps the cause of the accident was because of the bus company’s failure to actually meet the designated safety standards of the united States. If you believe that this may have happened to you, don’t wait another moment to take action, and perhaps prevent another person from having the same fate. Call Arnold & Itkin today for a personal injury attorney that can represent you before the court and help you fight for the compensation that you deserve.