Charter Bus Safety
Have you ever been responsible for handling travel for a group activity? If so, it may have involved arranging for a bus for transport. If you make such arrangements for personal or volunteer activity, you should take precautions.
Rules and regulations involving busses depend upon vehicle passenger capacity and whether the travel crosses state lines. In the latter instance, federal regulations apply. It may appear inconvenient to worry about such regulations, but they are worthwhile, especially when considering minimizing the dangers of group travel. Specifically, care should be taken in the following areas:
- Bus company selection
- Awareness of applicable regulations and
- A safety checklist
Selecting a bus company must be done carefully. At a minimum, any search should include finding out a bus company’s safety performance history. This information should be readily available upon request to any company you’re interested in hiring for your event. The company should also freely answer any questions that you may have when you review their history. If you are not satisfied by responses, move on.
Regarding regulations, be certain that a company’s vehicles are in compliance with U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requirements. It’s helpful to get a bus company’s safety rating which is assigned by the FMCSA. The ratings are simply Satisfactory, Conditionally Safe and Unsatisfactory. A little more information regarding the reasons for a conditional rating may make a given company perfectly acceptable for use. Never use a company with an unsatisfactory rating, especially since, with that as a final rating, the company should not be operating vehicles.
A Bus Safety Checklist, besides getting information on a bus company’s performance history and rating, should also include making certain that, if a bus will be crossing state lines, that it has valid operating authority from the FMCSA.
Also, if the bus is capable of carrying 16 or more persons (that INCLUDES the driver), the company must carry at least $5 million in automobile liability insurance coverage. Adequate coverage is essential as, when bus accidents do occur, they tend to involve multiple persons and serious injuries. Be sure to check about any per person limits of insurance carried by the applicable company. An overall, high insurance limit is useless if the coverage includes unreasonably low, per person limits per accident.
You may also inquire whether the bus company’s drivers are properly licensed. Busses that carry 16 or more persons should be operated by persons with a current Commercial Drivers License (CDL). Further, you may ask whether the company’s vehicles are properly maintained in safe operating condition and whether they have undergone safety inspections.