WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has ordered Champaign, Ill.-based passenger carrier Illini Tours, Inc., to immediately cease all operations, declaring that its drivers and vehicles pose an imminent hazard to public safety.
Illini Tours, Inc., operates five motorcoaches providing tours and charter services within Illinois and neighboring states.
“Safety is our highest priority,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Companies that don’t abide by safety regulations and put the public at risk will not be allowed to operate.”
FMCSA investigators found that Illini Tours did not have a systematic inspection, repair and maintenance program for its vehicles. Inspections of four of Illini Tours’ buses resulted in every vehicle being immediately placed out-of-service for critical safety violations. Illini Tours allowed one vehicle to remain in service for several days despite the fact that multiple drivers had repeatedly listed in their vehicle inspection reports that the anti-lock braking system warning indicator light remained illuminated.
“Each investigation involves specialized training, expertise and teamwork resulting in ‘raising the safety bar’ for all commercial passenger operations everywhere in the country,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. “Every member of our FMCSA team, working in close collaboration with our state partners, continues to make their unique contribution in protecting the motoring public by removing unsafe carriers and commercial drivers from the road.”
The owner of Illini Tours, Robert L. Frazier, is also the owner of Lex Express, Inc./Lincolnland Express, a passenger carrier ordered shut down by FMCSA in December 2012 for multiple violations, including making false entries on vehicle maintenance records and failing to correct identified safety defects contained in drivers’ inspection reports. The imminent hazard out-of-service order cited Frazier’s history of operating motor carriers in an unsafe manner.
A copy of the imminent hazard out-of-service order can be viewed at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/documents/about/news/2013/IlliniToursInc.pdf.
As part of FMCSA’s work to make safety data readily available to the traveling public, the SaferBus mobile app gives bus riders a quick and free way to review a bus company’s safety record before buying a ticket or booking group travel. The SaferBus app, available for iPhone, iPad and Android phone users, can be downloaded for free by visiting FMCSA’s “Look Before You Book” webpage at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/saferbus.
Travelers planning a bus trip are also encouraged to think safety first before buying a ticket or chartering a bus by using FMCSA’s multilingual passenger carrier safety checklist at: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety-security/pcs/Index.aspx.
FMCSA urges consumers and whistleblowers to report any unsafe bus company, vehicle or driver to the agency through a toll free hotline 1-888-DOT-SAFT (1-888-368-7238) or FMCSA’s consumer complaint web site: http://nccdb.fmcsa.dot.gov/HomePage.asp.
As to bus companies that FMCSA has recently placed out of service, consumers who paid for their ticket by credit card may be entitled to a credit from their credit card company under the Fair Credit Billing Act. For more information visit: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety-security/pcs/bus-credit-refund.aspx.