NTSB Press Release

National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs


Hearing to focus on loopholes that allow registration of non-compliant foreign vehicles

October 1, 2008

The National Transportation Safety Board today released additional information about the Board's scheduled public hearing as part of its ongoing investigation into the cause of a fatal motorcoach accident that occurred early this year near Victoria, Texas.

The one-and-a-half day hearing will convene at 9:00 a.m. on October 7, 2008, at the NTSB's Board Room and Conference Center, 429 L'Enfant Plaza, S.W., Washington, D.C.

The accident occurred on January 2, 2008 on U.S. Route 59 near Victoria, Texas when the northbound 47-passenger motorcoach overturned and struck a guardrail.  One passenger was fatally injured, and 46 passengers and the driver sustained injuries ranging from minor to serious.  The motorcoach had entered the country from Mexico and was being operated by a Houston charter bus company.  The bus was registered in Texas and was displaying Texas vehicle tags.

The agenda for the hearing, which will focus on the safety aspects of the inappropriate U.S. entry, registration, and operation of passenger carrying commercial vehicles that do not comply with the U.S. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS), may be found as an addendum to this advisory.

"From our investigation of the Victoria accident, we have found that some U.S. motorcoach operators may be taking advantage of loopholes in the system to register foreign-made motorcoaches in this country, even when the vehicles do not meet U.S. safety standards," said Member Debbie Hersman, who will be chairing the hearing. "We will be examining these apparent loopholes and the verification processes used to register these vehicles."

Questioning the witnesses will be the Board of Inquiry, a technical panel composed of the NTSB investigative staff, and representatives from the following parties: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation Inspector General, United States Customs and Border Protection, Volvo/Prevost Car, Inc., American Bus Association, United Motorcoach Association, and IRP, Inc.

Witnesses at the hearing include representatives from the following organizations: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, State of California Department of Motor Vehicles, State of Texas Department of Transportation, State of Texas Department of Public Safety, U.S. Department of Transportation Inspector General, IRP, Inc., 5 Star Specialty Programs (division of Crump Insurance Services), and United States Customs and Border Protection.

Information from the hearing will be used by the Safety Board to prepare a final report on the accident, including safety recommendations aimed at preventing similar accidents in the future.

The link for the hearing webcast will be found on the NTSB public hearing schedule Web page, at http://www.ntsb.gov/events/hearing_sched.htm, when it becomes available.

Public Hearing Agenda

- Opening statement and introductions  Overview of accident by Investigator in Charge General Assessment of Problem Scope
- Federal, State and local Agency Regarding Cross Border Operations of U.S. motorcoach operators
- International Registration Program
- State Registration Process for Commercial Passenger Vehicles

- Identification of non-FMVSS Compliant Passenger- carrying Vehicles
-  Closing remarks

NTSB Media Contact:
Bridget Serchak



The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged with determining the probable cause
of transportation accidents, promoting transportation safety, and assisting victims of transportation accidents and their families.