LANDOVER, Md. - Truckers and motorcoach drivers on the Beltway near Landover were likely surprised to find Maryland State Troopers redirecting them into a sprawling parking lot at FedEx Field.
What awaited them was a 37-point safety check of their vehicles and records by state inspectors.
"They're checking ... brakes, lights, tire, suspension, steering," says Stephen Keppler, executive director of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance -- a non-profit group that trains law enforcement officers in truck and bus safety.
It's Day 1 of a nationwide 3-day road safety check of trucks, buses and other commercial vehicles.
The FedEx Field lot is one of 2,500 sites nationwide where the safety inspections are taking place.
Keppler says 75,000 vehicles nationwide will be inspected during the 3-day enforcement period.
Drivers' credentials are also checked, including hours of service and medical certification.
The number of interstate bus companies has been growing in recent years, many offering discounted fares on busy routes, including the trip between Washington and New York.
There have been several dozen bus companies shut down in the past year over safety issues, Keppler says.
"We recognize it's a problem but there's a lot of activity responding to that, and we're being proactive," Keppler says.
When booking a trip on one of the new, discount bus companies, consumers should check if the company has a strong safety record, says Ann Ferro.
"We have a "SaferBus" app, it's free," says Ferro, the administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Ferro recommends when booking a bus trip ask the company for its DOT (Department of Transportation) number.
"If they don't have a DOT number, they're not authorized to operate," Ferro says.
Enter the company's DOT number in the SaferBus app and you can see the bus company's safety record on your smart phone.
"The world of moving a large vehicle, whether it's freight or passengers through our highways demands that the drivers and the companies that hire them put safety first," Ferro says.
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