WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has ordered Springfield, Va.-based passenger carrier Advanced Ventures, LLC., USDOT No. 1993687, to immediately cease all operations, declaring that its vehicles and drivers pose an imminent hazard to public safety.
Advanced Ventures operates a small fleet of motor coaches and mini-buses providing charter services throughout the mid-Atlantic region.
“Safety is our highest priority,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Companies that are not transporting passengers safely will not be allowed to operate.”
As part of FMCSA’s “Operation Quick Strike,” an intensified investigation of high-risk passenger carriers started in April, federal investigators found that Advanced Ventures routinely falsified annual vehicle inspection documents rather than systematically and properly maintaining and repairing its vehicles to meet minimum safety standards. Onsite inspections of five buses on separate dates in May and June revealed a total 39 safety violations with two of the vehicles declared imminent hazards and immediately placed out-of-service. Violations included failing to inspect and ensure that emergency window exits were operating properly.
Investigators also found that the owners of Advanced Ventures repeatedly allowed drivers to transport passengers before receiving the results of pre-employment drug and alcohol tests as required by federal regulations. The company repeatedly dispatched another driver whose medical certificate had expired and had been falsified. Drivers were not required by the company to turn in hours-of-service records or other required documentation such as driving itineraries and fuel receipts.
“Commercial bus and truck companies that intentionally falsify records to evade safety requirements have no place on our highways and roads,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. “We will continue to take immediate action to shut down unsafe companies and commercial drivers who endanger every traveler. Safety is paramount.”
This action becomes the 14th out-of-service order issued by FMCSA since the deployment on April 1, 2013, of more than 50 specially trained “Operation Quick Strike” safety investigators targeting high-risk passenger carriers. In the past eight weeks, FMCSA investigators have issued out-of-service orders to bus companies in the District of Columbia, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Ohio, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New York, South Carolina, Utah and Virginia. Since the beginning of 2013, FMCSA has issued out-of-service orders to a total of 21 bus companies and eight trucking companies. The agency has also declared six commercial driver’s license holders as imminent hazards, blocking them from operating in interstate commerce.
A copy of the imminent hazard out-of-service order can be viewed at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/documents/about/news/2013/AdvancedVentures.pdf
As part of FMCSA's work to make safety data readily available to the traveling public, the SaferBus mobile app gives bus riders a quick and free way to review a bus company's safety record before buying a ticket or booking group travel. The SaferBus app, available for iPhone, iPad and Android phone users, can be downloaded for free by visiting FMCSA's "Look Before You Book" webpage at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/saferbus.
Travelers planning a bus trip are also encouraged to think safety first before buying a ticket or chartering a bus by using FMCSA's multilingual passenger carrier safety checklist at: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety-security/pcs/Index.aspx.
FMCSA urges consumers and whistleblowers to report any unsafe bus company, vehicle or driver to the agency through a toll free hotline 1-888-DOT-SAFT (1-888-368-7238) or FMCSA's consumer complaint web site: http://nccdb.fmcsa.dot.gov/HomePage.asp.
Consumers who bought a ticket on a bus company that FMCSA has recently placed out-of-service may be entitled to a credit from their credit card company under the Fair Credit Billing Act if they paid for the ticket by credit card. For more information visit: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety-security/pcs/bus-credit-refund.aspx.