More than 40 percent of CHP-inspected buses cited for violations

FALLBROOK, Calif. - Team 10 has obtained some eye-opening numbers when it comes to safety violations and tour buses on local highways.

On Tuesday morning, 10News caught up with California Highway Patrol inspector Will Moebest, who was inspecting a tour bus from Pechanga Casino at the CHP's Rainbow commercial inspection facility.

"I'm checking the lugnuts to see if they're loose," said Moebst as he went through a back tire.

The tires are closely inspected, along with the lights and the engine. Underneath the bus, Moebest does a thorough inspection, including the brakes. In all, the inspection lasts about 20 minutes.

In 2013, the inspection station -- which is one of four local ones -- oversaw 96 inspections.

Forty tour buses were cited for 137 violations, from minor paperwork issues to dangerous mechanical issues. Ten were taken out of service for immediate repairs.

"We've had worn tires all the way to the steel belt," said CHP Officer Judy Maultsby, who has been assigned to commercial inspection for the last 17 years. "We've had steering violations. We've also had drivers that did not qualify to drive the bus."      

Tour bus safety has come to the forefront in the wake of five crashes of motor coaches bound for Southern California casinos, including a deadly crash in Fallbrook in December.

In February, a tour bus crash near Big Bear killed seven, including several local residents.

Federal investigators said all six brakes were bad and slammed the Department of Transportation for failing to keep unsafe buses off the highways.

Back at the inspection site, the inspection Team 10 witnessed resulted in no violations.  

Despite the recent crashes, the National Transportation Safety Board says riding in a tour bus is a safer way to travel than other methods of transportation, such as passenger cars.

The CHP says the number of local tour bus violations has remained fairly stable from year to year.

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