DATTCO, INC. STATEMENT ON SAFETY COMPLIANCE
March 20, 2009
Dennis Lyons, Vice President / Coach & Tour Group
(860) 229-4878 ext. 625
Cell (860) 883-3949
Concern has recently been expressed about DATTCO’s safety record and compliance with State and Federal regulations. We take such issues extremely seriously, as the safety of our passengers and employees is our primary concern. Here are the relevant details:
Safety compliance reviews are conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), and reported on their website, SafeStat Online (http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov). DATTCO’s most recent rating, updated under the February 10, 2009 compliance review, was SATISFACTORY, which is the agency’s highest level.
There are two additional rating levels, CONDITIONAL and UNSATISFACTORY. A rating of CONDITIONAL indicates there are areas of concern to be addressed. UNSATISFACTORY indicates a severe level of concern, with failure to address these issues potentially resulting in a shutdown of operations.
We have been informed that an investigative report performed by ESPN has characterized the results of our September, 2008 Compliance Review as “DATTCO failed their DOT safety inspection.” However, DATTCO’s September 2008 rating was CONDITIONAL. Areas of concern, highlighted below, have since been rectified and found to be in compliance.
• Driver operating with suspended license – we had an incident last summer where one of our casual drivers, whose license had been suspended for medical review relevant to his eyesight, inadvertently appeared back on our active driver list. This driver operated a bus twice during the period when ordinarily he would have been prevented from doing so. We have taken steps to prevent this from happening in the future by modifying our dispatch software to allow us to prevent scheduling a driver who appears on the list provided by the state DMV. Fortunately no incidents occurred while this driver was operating our vehicles. Though the driver was eventually cleared by medical review without the need for corrective treatment, he was subsequently terminated for failing to inform us of his suspension.
• Date stamp violation – We are required to do a multi-tiered driver review on an annual basis. Each driver is required to submit a self certification of moving violations, which is compared to the DMV records obtained by DATTCO. A review of the driver’s medical qualification status is also completed and these three steps constitute the annual review. A clerical error resulted in the DMV forms, which are not date stamped, being date-stamped with an incorrect date. While both the incorrect and actual review dates were in compliance within the 364-day window during which this review must be completed, this issue was flagged as being potentially fraudulent. We have addressed this issue by having the DMV generate a computer-printed date on their forms.
• Defective Brakes – All DATTCO coaches are equipped with automatic slack adjusters on the braking systems. This eliminates the need to adjust the slack at routine preventative maintenance cycles, and keeps brake effect at a constant until material replacement is needed. These slack adjusters are checked for proper lubrication and function at every Preventative Maintenance cycle which occur at 5,000 mile intervals. Unfortunately, like any mechanical part, it is possible for a slack adjuster to become inoperable between inspections. Such an occurance would impact the relative effectiveness of only one of the vehicle’s six brakes.
• Thin, worn or flat tires – While entering our scheduled stop at the Connecticut Convention Center, one of our coaches struck a curb and damaged a rear tire. The driver stopped the coach in the stop, placed the emergency triangles in the busway and contact maintenance to have the tire replaced. While waiting for a tire service to arrive, an inspector placed the vehicle out of service for a leaking tire.
• Missing or inoperable emergency exit – In August of 2008, DATTCO purchased the region’s first double deck intercity coach. When we presented this bus for initial inspection, prior to registering and placing it in service, the Connecticut DMV found an emergency roof hatch handle that had come loose during transport. Again, the vehicle had not been placed service at the time and therefore could not be removed from of service.
We believe the terminology “failed their DOT inspection” is incorrect and somewhat misleading, given our Conditional rating during the period when ESPN conducted their research. Even a rating of Unsatisfactory is not necessarily a “failure,” as carriers are given specific timetables to take corrective actions to achieve compliance.
While we are pleased with the improvement in our 2009 rating and associated SafeStat scores, there are some concerns with the FMCSA scoring formulas. Changes to our vehicle and driver inventories made by FMCSA during their September review appeared to have an unexplained impact on these scores. DATTCO has been working with FMCSA to determine the impact of this change. FMCSA is currently re-evaluating the scoring algorithms and has temporarily removed the Motor Carrier Accident Safety Evaluation Area (SEA) and Overall SafeStat scores from its website while they work with state partners to improve the timeliness and accuracy of safety data. Until these issues are addressed, FMCSA urges caution in the use of SEA and SafeStat data.
Additional information about DATTCO’s safety record:
• With only 6 reportable accidents in the past 30 months, DATTCO has an extremely low accident rate. A rating in excess of one accident per million miles might be considered unreasonable by FMCSA and other regulatory authorities. Operating more than 15 million miles per year, DATTCO’s accident rate is .000001. All of these events were low-level incidents, with only minor injuries sustained by passengers or drivers. One incident involved a motor coach and 5 involved a school bus. There were no incidents involving the transportation of collegiate athletic teams.
• DATTCO received an inspection rating of ONE - Outstanding in a Dept. Of Defense Traffic Management safety audit in July 2008 and is a multiple year recipient of our insurance captive's Risk Control award. The DOD audit is modeled after the FMCSA's compliance review and is performed by Consolidated Safety Services, the third party contractor hired by FMCSA to perform their new entrant compliance reviews.
For over 80 years, DATTCO has strived to achieve the highest level of compliance when it comes to driver and vehicle safety, and we are committed to continuous improvement. For additional information please visit our website at www.DATTCO.com.