Capricorn obtained a Texas license plate by having another bus company register the bus in California. Capricorn then used the California registration to acquire Texas plates. Robert Sumwalt, NTSB board member, told the Associated Press, “I think that this accident is the mother of all shell games.”
In its findings, the board wrote that the owner of Capricorn illicitly imported the 2005 Volvo bus involved in the rollover, and used a California registration law loophole to bypass federal and state requirements for vehicles to comply with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.
A Houston Chronicle article on the rollover accident said a bus made to meet U.S. safety requirements costs approximately $400,000; a bus made with lesser safety features can cost half of that.
The Chronicle also obtained records showing that Capricorn had previously settled, for $3.3 million, a lawsuit centered on a similar crash injuring 46 people.
After its investigation of the 2008 bus crash, the NTSB recommended that federal agencies crack down on the companies using buses that don’t meet safety standards, forcing them to either take the buses out of operation or go out of business.
Other NTSB proposals:
•· Create databases to enable state law enforcement to identify buses that don’t meet safety requirements in order to get the vehicles off the roads
•· Require bus companies to certify that all buses they lease or own meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; certification would be updated yearly
•· Use the internet to distribute safety videos and other media materials to carriers
Protecting yourself from bus company negligence
If you or a loved one has been injured in a bus crash, contact a San Francisco bus accident attorney who can evaluate your case and advise you of your best available legal options.