By Charlie Morasch, Land Line contributing writer | Friday, January 18, 2013
Three weeks after a single-vehicle bus crash that killed nine and injured nearly 40 other passengers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has revoked operating privileges of two Canadian motor coach drivers.
On Dec. 30, 2012, a bus operated by Mi Joo Tour & Travel of Coquitlam, British Columbia, crashed down a steep embankment on Interstate 84 near Pendleton, OR. Investigators later found Mi Joo Tour & Travel allowed Haeng Kyu Hwang to drive after he was “well beyond the 70 hour maximum hours-of-service” permitted under federal regs. He had worked 92 hours in the seven days leading up to the crash.
FMCSA has declared Hwang and driver Choong Yurl Choi to be “imminent hazards to public safety,” the agency announced in a news release Thursday, Jan. 17.
Choi, another Mi Joo Tour & Travel driver, was driving a second bus on the same route as Hwang and also was driving well beyond the 70-hour limit. FMCSA said its investigation found both drivers had “engaged in speeds too fast for existing road conditions” on the day of the crash.
“We will not tolerate illegal and unsafe behavior by bus and truck drivers,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said, according to an FMCSA news release. “Safety for every traveler on our highways and roads is our highest priority.”
FMCSA has already revoked Mi Joo Tour & Travel’s operating authority within the United States.
Mi Joo had been cited in 2011 after it didn’t meet U.S. drug and alcohol testing requirements. After not paying the fine initially, Mi Joo’s operating authority was suspended by the U.S. DOT. Later, the company paid the fine and was reinstated to operate in the U.S.
The company was also fined for drug and alcohol testing violations stemming from 2010.
“Interstate bus and truck companies and their drivers should have no doubt that we will vigorously enforce all federal safety regulations to the fullest extent possible by law,” FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro said, according to the release. “Carriers and drivers who flout the safety rules put the public at risk and will be shut down.”
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