Feds shut down Oklahoma’s Heartland Charters & Tours
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has declared Heartland Charters & Tours and its principals an imminent hazard to public safety. The Oklahoma-based, interstate passenger bus company was ordered to immediately shut down its operations.
FMCSA placed Heartland Charters & Tours out-of-service after an extensive review of the company’s operations found multiple hours-of-service, vehicle maintenance, and controlled substance and alcohol testing violations. Safety investigators discovered that the company did not conduct pre-employment drug screenings of its drivers and failed to use properly qualified drivers, putting the public at risk.
Over the past five years, FMCSA has doubled the number of bus inspections and comprehensive safety reviews of the nation’s estimated 4,000 passenger bus companies. Roadside motorcoach inspections have jumped nearly 100 percent, from 12,991 in 2005 to 25,705 in 2010, while compliance reviews are up 128 percent, from 457 in 2005 to 1,042 in 2010. By significantly increasing bus safety inspections, FMCSA placed 54 unsafe companies out-of-service in 2011 alone.
Additionally, over the last two years DOT has taken action to reduce distracted driving by commercial truck and bus drivers. In January 2010, FMCSA banned texting by commercial drivers, and in November 2011 the agency prohibited commercial drivers from reaching for, holding or dialing a cell phone while operating a commercial motor vehicle.