By David Schultz
This week, federal safety regulators are stopping tour buses on the National Mall and subjecting them to surprise inspections. And not all of them are passing.
Vincenzo Misuraca, a special inspector with the Federal Motor Carrier Administration, is checking the lug nuts on a tour bus. "One loose one," he says, "that could be a danger. There's two lose ones."
This bus will eventually fail the inspection and be taken out of service. But Miseraca says it's far from the worst he's ever seen. That would be a tour bus that was carrying 40 children.
"And the actual engine mount was held by two chains," he recalls. "And actually when we stopped the bus, all the brakes were out. A hundred percent, brakes were out."
Anne Ferro, head of the Motor Carrier Administration, says dangerous tour buses like these will always fall through the cracks.
"Is there ever enough to get at the bad guys? Do bad guys always figure out a way around? We always have to work smarter in tackling that," says Ferro.
In the meantime, passengers can view the safety records of bus companies online at the Motor Carrier Administration's web site.