A bus accident in Laredo, TX on Saturday sparked questions over the safety of OGA Charters’ vehicles. The devastating accident resulted in the deaths of 8 people and injuries to 44 others. According to reports, the Texas company responsible for the charter bus involved in the deadly crash has been twice ordered to take one of its buses off the road due to brake and emergency-exit issues. In May of 2015, just around a year ago, the company was first ordered to sideline one of its buses. In August of 2015, OGA Charters was again ordered by Louisiana state inspectors to sideline a bus when the brake issues were getting worse according to records from the FMCSA.
It is not clear whether or not the bus involved in the most recent accident was the same bus that had numerous problems last year. There is little to no information about the steps the company took to resolve the brake and safety problems in their commercial vehicle between the two inspections and the most recent accident.
NTSB Begins Investigation Into the Accident
On Sunday, National Transportation Safety Board investigators showed up on the scene to begin gathering information and determining the cause of the crash. Early reports indicate that heavy rain may have played a part in the rollover crash, but the NTSB will be investigating the operations of the company and have already obtained inspection and maintenance records.
Defective Breaks & Other Violations
OGA Charters only has two buses and reportedly earned a “satisfactory” rating in May of 2014 from the Motor Carrier Safety Administration. While there have been no crashes prior Saturday’s accident, there have been six driver and vehicle inspections in the last two years, resulting in 15 total violations.
These violations included driver record issues, violations in the number of hours a driver was on the road, vehicle maintenance problems, and various other matters. Federal regulators involved marked the hours of service violations as a problem area.
The May 2015 inspection that led to one of the buses being sidelined found that brake connections were leaking, the automatic brake adjustment system wasn’t working correctly, and the windshield was discolored. The inspectors ordered the bus be put out of commission since 20% of its brakes were defective, making it a potential hazard.
Though the company was expected to make certain changes to remedy these brake issues, a second inspection in 2015—just four months later—revealed that general brake issues were still present. This inspection also cited some of the same problems with the brakes from the first inspection.
While investigations are still ongoing, it is clear that OGA Charter has a history of maintenance issues that may have played a part in this tragic rollover.