Safety violations, evading detection, alleged in fatal Phoenix bus accident

Federal authorities have fined a Van Nuys busing company more than $72,000 for safety violations in the wake of a Phoenix bus accident that killed six passengers in March, according to the Arizona Republic.

We reported in April on our Phoenix Injury Lawyer Blog that a 130-page report by the Arizona Department of Public Safety blamed negligent operation and numerous safety violations for the accident. Six of 22 passengers were killed when the bus plunged off the freeway and overturned. It had been traveling from Los Angeles to New Mexico when it struck a pickup truck on I-10 between Tucson and Phoenix.

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced the $72,760 fine on Monday. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recommended the fines as a result of its investigation.

The federal government charged the owner of the busing company with 78 violations of 13 motor-carrier safety regulations. Violations include operating without federal authority or required insurance and violating driver qualification, hours of service and maintenance requirements. The company has until July 12 to contest the claims.

The Republic reports that the company has a history of violations and was suspended from operating for lack of insurance in April 2009. The owner allegedly used four different names over a period of several years in order to evade federal orders to cease operations.

The Arizona Department of Transportation reports that 233 Arizona bus accidents occurred in 2008, the last year for which statistics are available. Four people were killed and 45 were seriously injured.