Statistics show that up to 32 million people a day travel by some sort of bus – be it a school bus, city bus, charter bus or Greyhound. In light of that, the minimum number of injury and fatality accidents seems to indicate that bus travel is relatively safe. Even so, there are measures that the potential bus traveler can take to better ensure their safety. Consider the following:
*Take the time to investigate the bus company’s safety and compliance records. They should meet all federal standards as iterated by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier’s Safety Administration (FMCSA). Among other things, this organization performs safety reviews that are made available to the public. You, as the passenger, should only be satisfied with a ‘satisfactory’ rating. Anything less is putting yourself and your loved ones at risk.
*Bus companies that are licensed to carry more than 16 passengers must also have insurance coverage of no less than $5 million. Know your carrier’s insurance coverage before stepping onto the bus – particularly if they are a charter organization.
*We have a shared responsibility to report hazardous driving situations to the proper authorities. If you notice a bus driver behaving unsafely or a vehicle that you believe to be less than par for the road notify your local authorities. They will provide the necessary information to file a formal complaint.
Commercial carriers of all types have a responsibility to the public to ensure their drivers always practice the utmost safety, their vehicles and equipment are without reproach and that all regulations and rules are followed to the letter of the law.
Bus drivers of all types must possess a Commercial Driver’s License. They are not legally allowed to operate any vehicle that carries sixteen or more passengers without this special driving permit. If a bus driver intends to work for a company that requires him to cross state lines then there are additional qualification standards that must be met as well.
Unfortunately, it is hard to get an honest ‘read’ on bus accident statistics. The reason for this is some of the most disastrous motor coach accidents of the past decade aren’t included in statistics of fatalities from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the government agency responsible for tracking accidents. According to a report from the widely read USA Today news agency – “NHTSA has undercounted motor coach accidents and deaths on the nation’s highways since at least 1995 and has given the inaccurate numbers in testimony before Congress and in public reports on bus safety”!!!
For example, “least 42 deaths of motor coach occupants and drivers were not reported using NHTSA’s standard definition of a motor coach from 1995 to 2009”. The USA Today report goes on to say that in addition “since 2003, 32 fatalities were not included, which represents a 24% increase from the 133 deaths the agency counted AND there were 42 deaths from 2000 to 2009 on midsize buses, which are not counted by NHTSA as motor coach fatalities”.
Although bus travel is still one of the safest modes of travel available – do not be lulled into believing they are a fail-safe way of getting around. Well informed…is well prepared.
About Greg Baumgartner
Greg Baumgartner is a truck accident lawyer helping victims with serious injury or families with wrongful death cases. Contact Greg Toll Free 1-866-758-4529
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