There are more than 4,000 for-hire, registered motorcoach companies in the United States. While price is generally an issue when people travel, safety needs to be a priority. Here are some tips to help you decide which motorcoach company is best for your planned travel.
Only choose a safe company.
Each passenger carrier that is designated “for-hire,” will have an operating authority registration and a U.S. Department of Transportation number. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is responsible for these two items and enforces the laws that relate to all types of commercial motor vehicles.
There are three types of ratings issued by the FMCSA. Those that have an Unsatisfactory rating are not supposed to operate. A Conditional rating means that the bus company’s passengers will have a higher safety risk. A Satisfactory rating means that there are controls for safety management in place that ensure the safety fitness standards put forth by the FMCSA are complied with.
A motorcoach company is required to have at least $5 million worth of insurance, have securement areas for people with disabilities and have wheelchair lifts.
Have a Safe Driver.
You can ask the bus company if their drivers meet these requirements:
— A commercial driver’s license that has a passenger endorsement
— A valid certificate from a medical examiner that indicates the driver meets the physical qualification requirements
— A history of safe driving
Also ask if the company has a testing program for drugs and alcohol and if drivers are forbidden from using a cellphone while operating the bus.
Plan a Safe Trip.
There are federal hour-of-service regulations for interstate motorcoach drivers. These include that an interstate bus driver can’t drive for over 10 consecutive hours and no more than 60 to 70 hours in seven to eight days — depending on whether the bus company operates each day of the week. If your trip will require more consecutive driving hours than is allowed by law, you’ll need to make certain there is a back-up driver available.
Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, “Top 3 Things to Know When Planning Your Next Bus Trip,” accessed April. 17, 2015