By Keith Laing - 03/30/11 03:35 PM EDT
LaHood said Wednesday the recent crashes were a “reminder” that bus-safety reforms are needed.
"Every year, motorcoaches safely carry 750 million passengers around the country," he wrote on his Fast Lane blog. "But recent tragic crashes in New York, New Jersey and Arizona are a sober reminder that we can and we must do better."
The commercial driver's learner's permits will standardize the amount of training bus drivers get before taking to the road, LaHood said.
"By this fall, FMCSA will issue a final rule requiring new, mandatory training standards for entry level commercial bus drivers," he wrote. "Under this new rule, drivers seeking a motorcoach license must complete 80 hours of training, with at least 32 hours of behind-the-wheel training."
LaHood noted that DoT has been working with 13 states to perform random inspections of buses. In 2009, he said, the Motor Carrier Safety Administration had pulled 4.3 percent of bus drivers and 7.6 percent of buses off the road for safety violations.
Most of the companies were suspended until they pay fines and show compliance with safety regulations.