Revised SCS charter screenings reveal crashes, fatality

Revised SCS charter screenings reveal crashes, fatality

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Shelby County Schools' revamped screening process for charter bus vendors reveals the district is keeping vendors with as many as four crashes in the last two years, including one with a fatality.

In the wake of a WMC Action News 5 investigation that revealed six of the vendors on the district's approved travel list had troubled safety histories, SCS Superintendent Dorsey Hopson announced the district would require all charter vendors to submit applications.

Hopson said all current and applying vendors would have to maintain satisfactory ratings with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's Safety & Fitness Electronics Records review, or SAFER.

Duane DeBruyne, deputy communications director for the FMCSA, said SAFER provides summary information on each motor carrier FMCSA regulates. It includes the carrier's latest safety rating, the date of that rating and its statistical details on:

* Drug/alcohol testing of drivers

* Vehicle maintenance

* Licensing & insurance

* Drivers' logs/hours of service

* Inspections/crashes

"Because of these stricter requirements, if (the vendors) haven't been through this FMCSA SAFER review, we are not going to allow (our schools) to use those carriers," said Hopson. He also said the district intends to conduct quarterly reviews of vendors' safety records, including monthly updates from the FMCSA's Safety Measurement System (SMS).

WMC Action News 5 reviewed the SAFER records of the 17 vendors who remain on the district's approved list. 10 of the 17 have had no crashes in the last 24 months.

The other seven recorded at least one crash in the same period. One of them -- Anchor Tours, based in Davidson County, TN -- logged four crashes with one injury during that time, according to SAFER. Six of the seven logged more than one crash and at least one injury in the 24-month period.

One of those, Cross Country Tours, Inc., of Millington, TN, logged two crashes in the 24-month period, including one fatality. It's the only one of the six charter vendors WMC Action News 5 singled out for violations that SCS decided to keep on the approved list, despite its maintenance history.

Curtis Herron, owner and operator of Cross Country Tours, Inc., did not return an e-mail and phone call requesting that he elaborate on the accident that resulted in the fatality. In spite of the fatal crash, the SAFER system still rates Cross County Tours, Inc., as 'satisfactory,' based on a May 2014 comprehensive review of its operations.

"If a company's SAFER review reveals an accident or other concern, the incident is reviewed by the district," said SCS spokesperson Kristin Tallent. "After speaking with Mr. Herron and investigating the fatal crash involving Cross County Tours, it was determined the bus vendor was not at fault."

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