Three Steps for Safety
As a planner, you want travelers to enjoy a wonderful – and safe – travel experience. It’s just as important to research bus safety as it is to research the quality and value of accommodations or activities.
For every bus trip, you should:
- Research bus company safety using FMCSA’s tools;
- Talk to the operator to verify driver safety; and
- Help travelers stay safe – do not ask drivers to operate unsafely, and share onboard safety information with tour leaders and passengers.
Step 1: Research Bus Safety
Interstate bus companies must prominently display a United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) number – and be registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). If providing transporation for compensation, they must also have required liability insurance to protect passengers.
FMCSA maintains a safety database on bus operators. You can access this information using FMCSA’s online search or the convenient SaferBus Mobile App to research bus operators you are considering. You’ll find more information and tips under Research Bus Safety.
Step 2: Verify Driver Safety
Talk with the bus company to make sure that all bus drivers for your charter trips or tours are qualified and have a history of safe performance:
- Ensure assigned bus drivers (for any vehicles that can carry 16 or more people) have a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) with a “Passenger Endorsement” – which requires additional knowledge and road testing relevant to operating a bus.
- Ensure all drivers have a valid medical examiner’s certificate – indicating they meet the physical requirements to operate a bus.
- Ask about driving experience and safety history for each assigned driver.
- Ask the operator to confirm that it prohibits (and enforces) drivers from texting or using a cell phone while driving.
- Ensure that the company has a proactive drug- and alcohol-testing program for drivers.
Step 3: Help Passengers Stay Safe
Don’t Ask Drivers to Operate Unsafely
Especially for longer bus trips, plan for detours, work zones, heavy traffic, or a little extra time rounding up your travelers. Build in extra time on your trip schedule, rather than asking your bus driver to speed or make up for lost time.
Asking a driver to make an extra, unplanned stop for photos or an attraction might push the trip beyond authorized driving hours (Hours of Service) – so be sure your itinerary is complete before booking a bus company.
If you’re planning a longer bus trip, your group may require more than one bus driver.
Understand the Dangers of Driving While Fatigued
Driving while fatigued is just as dangerous as other types of impaired driving. That’s why Hours of Service regulations limit how long a bus driver can drive and remain on duty:
- Interstate bus drivers cannot drive more than 10 consecutive hours (following 8 consecutive hours off duty) – and cannot be on duty longer than 15 hours (after 8 consecutive hours off duty).
- Interstate bus drivers cannot drive at all after extended periods on duty:
- 60 hours in any 7 consecutive days (if the business does not operate 7 days a week)
- 70 hours in any 8 consecutive days (if the business operates 7 days a week)
If your trip requires more driving or on-duty time than the law allows, make sure the operator provides a qualified back-up driver.
Empower Tour Leaders and Passengers with Safety Information
- The bus operator should provide a passenger safety orientation, at the beginning of the trip so passengers are familiar with safety equipment and precautions.
- Share information on bus trip safety.
- Let Tour Leaders and passengers know they should call 911 if they have concerns about their immediate safety aboard a bus.
- Tell tour leaders and passengers how to report safety or accessibility violations they observe to FMCSA.
- Share information with other trip planners using the Bus Safety Resource Kits.