FMCSA Provides Motorcoach Safety Tips In The Wake of Tragedy

Posted on February 12, 2013

Anyone planning a trip on a tour bus in the near future should make themselves aware of a recent tragedy and then consult some important tips from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration branch of the Department of Transportation before booking.

The sad incident in which eight people were killed has led to the FMCSA barring the operator from continuing its business, effectively deeming the company a public safety hazard.  An investigation was subsequently launched into two other motor coaches under the banner of Scapadas Magicas, and that investigation has apparently uncovered numerous violations that could pose a serious threat to safety.  Those buses are also no longer in service.

If you ever find yourself booking passage on a motorcoach, then make sure you heed the advice of the FMCSA before you begin.  The agency provides a list of questions that you can ask that should allow you to verify that the company you’ve chosen can get you to your destination in as safe a manner as possible.

First, understand that price should not be the only consideration.  If a deal sounds too good to be true, it might just be.  You could be placing yourself in danger if you go with an unsanctioned charter just to save a few bucks.

No matter the cost, your first step should be querying the carrier as to the expertise of the driver of the bus.  Motorcoach companies should have drug and alcohol testing procedures in place to conform to the standards laid out by the DOT, and if they don’t, move on.  Also ask for guarantees that the driver will have an up to date medical certificate and an endorsement to carry passengers in a commercial capacity.  Also have the company brief you as to their adherence to hours of service regulations put in place to ensure sound mind and body of the driver at all times.

But the driver is but one component.  The bus itself must also be safe.  Ask the carrier whether or not their bus has submitted to mandatory inspection requirements.  Adequate repairs and maintenance should be carried out by the company as necessary, and the charter should also have procedures in place for those times when an emergency occurs.

Finally, verify that the company actually has the authority to operate.  A company that’s on the level shouldn’t hesitate to provide you with their MC number and their USDOT number.  The latter enables you to go online and find any posted safety information, while the former allows you to access insurance information.  Passenger carriers transporting more than 15 persons must carry at least $5 million of public liability insurance, and proof of such should be provided to you without question.

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