3 things to know about First Class Tours

By Aaron Wische - Senior Executive Producer, Aaron Barker - Senior Web Editor, Robert Arnold - Investigative Reporter

HOUSTON - Channel 2 Investigates looked into the background of the company that operated the bus that was chartered by a Houston-area school district and plunged into an Alabama ravine Tuesday.

Students from the Channelview Independent School District were aboard the bus, which was owned and operated by First Class Tours. The group was returning from a trip to Disney World. 

READ: Driver killed, dozens injured in crash of Houston-area charter bus in Alabama

The driver of the bus was killed and dozens of others were injured when the bus went off Interstate 10 near Loxley, Alabama, and fell into the 50-foot ravine.

Here are three things Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration records revealed about the company.

1. Size of the company

Records showed that the Houston-based company has a fleet of 58 vehicles and employs 94 drivers.

2. Rates of incidents

The company has a rate of incidents and violations that is lower than the national average, according to records.

Federal inspection records show the company underwent 276 inspections since March 2016 and only 22 violations were noted. None of those violations was considered acute or critical by federal regulators.

One of the buses was involved in a fatal crash in Houston in May, where a pedestrian died.

According to Houston police, no citations were issued following the fatal accident. HPD officials told KPRC the department’s report on the incident was sent to the Harris County District Attorney’s Office for review in January.

The company has also been involved in three non-injury crashes, records showed.

One of those crashes was so minor, no fault was listed in HPD’s records. In another accident, a bus driver was warned for making too wide a turn, according to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.

Sugar Land police reported an accident in their jurisdiction involved a car rear-ending a bus.

3. Violations

Records showed that the company had two unsafe driving violations in the past two years. One case involved a driver failing to use a seat belt while operating a commercial motor vehicle, according to records. The other was a speeding violation for 11-14 mph above the posted speed limit, according to records.

Other violations that were not directly related to driving included “a false report of drivers record of duty status” and four bus inspections that turned up violations requiring the vehicles to be immediately taken out of service, according to records.

To view the company’s FMCSA record, go to ai.fmcsa.dot.gov.

There were more than 39,000 transportation-related fatalities in the U.S. in 2016, the last year data was collected, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

Take a look at the image below to see how the fatalities broke down by mode:

us transportation fatalities in 2016 by mode_1520977007253.jpg.jpg

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