The Group Travel Leader
Published January 01, 2018
SALEM, Ohio — Some group planners and travelers assume that all bus companies are alike when it comes to safety.
Though it is true that bus travel is a safe mode of transportation, group travel planners should remember that bus operators are not alike when it comes to safety. Many of us choose our motorcoach transportation based on price or a relationship with a driver. Most operators take safety seriously, but there are always a few companies that cut corners, putting passengers and other motorists at serious risk.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and The Group Travel Family have teamed up to educate travel leaders on this important subject. Before you book or contract with a charter company, take a few minutes to learn about safety considerations and research prospective bus operators. For instance, you want to choose an operator that does the following:
• Inspects all its buses regularly, completes the required maintenance and repairs, and ensures that all safety equipment is present and working properly.
• Hires well-qualified, properly licensed drivers with good safety records, and ensures they are medically fit to drive and obey all safety laws and regulations.
Safety in the Palm of Your Hand
FMCSA has free safety information and tools to help trip planners and passengers research bus safety. Travelers and travel planners can download the convenient SaferBus mobile app to research bus companies at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/lookbeforeyoubook. Find or ask for the company’s USDOT (U.S. Department of Transportation) number, and use it to search, since many bus companies have similar names.
Here are a few things to check for any bus company you’re considering:
• Authorization to Operate — All commercial bus operators that carry passengers across state lines must have a USDOT number and be authorized by FMCSA to operate. If you see a red “Not authorized to operate” notice in your search results, don’t book with that bus operator. If you find that a bus company not authorized to operate is selling tickets, report it to FMCSA. Just click the “Leave Complaint” button on the SaferBus app to access the National Consumer Complaint Database.
• Operator Safety Records — These records provide an indicator of how well a bus company has performed in specific safety categories. These include important safety practices like maintaining the bus and safety equipment, using qualified drivers who hold commercial driver’s licenses, complying with hours-of-service regulations to prevent fatigued driving and having a proactive substance abuse screening program.
Empower Your Passengers
FMCSA’s “Look Before You Book” website also provides tips, information and a “Learn Before You Board” fact sheet to help passengers take an active role in bus safety; it explains how to find and use onboard safety equipment and what to do in an emergency, and how to report unsafe driver behavior such as speeding, texting while driving and driving impaired.
Visit www.fmcsa.dot.gov/lookbeforeyoubook today to keep your passengers moving safely, or attend your local TravelTalks Meeting, where the subject of bus safety is discussed at each meeting.