RICHLAND, Wash. - The investigation into the fatal charter bus accident near Pendleton has uncovered allegations that important safety regulations were not being followed.
A local charter bus company in Richland spoke to NBC Right Now about what federal guidelines are in place that could have prevented the accident.
"That's why the industry is monitored so safely. To make sure the people who are operating are operating in accordance with all the regulations," said Genie Tours Owner Dan Carter.
These regulations may have been broken by Mi Joo Tour and Travel when one of its buses crashed near Pendleton, killing 9 people. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has banned the Canadian company from operating in the U.S. Their investigation claims the driver had been at the wheel for 92 hours over eight days when the bus crashed.
"The number one rule is time of service. Time of service is 10 hours of drive time and then we're required eight hours of rest," said Carter. Federal law requires drivers to keep detailed records of those hours. Those papers are then audited by the Washington State Utilities and Transportation Commission.
"We typically try to inspect all charter bus carriers once every 2 years. We go out and do a full record keeping audit, we inspect vehicles, we check driver credentials," said Assistant Director for Transportation Safety Dave Pratt.
Drivers must also submit to drug and alcohol checks and carry a card saying they're in good health.
"If they don't have a medical card, that vehicle is shut down and put out of service," said Pratt.
Pratt says most companies are doing their best to follow the regulations, but when rules are broken, it usually comes down to the bottom line.
"A Canadian company trying to save money. Have one driver go on a trip that's long kind of saves them money but its not safe," said Pratt.
Mi Joo Tour and Travel is based out of Canada, but these standards apply to all of North America. Travelers can check databases at www.fmcsa.dot.gov or www.wutc.wa.gov to review safety scores for charter bus companies.