Renting a charter bus is a great way to enjoy your group excursion. But is it a safe way to travel? What should you know about bus safety before making your next reservation? How can you improve safety conditions for your fellow bus travelers?
How Governments Regulate Bus Travel
In the United States, all bus travel is regulated by the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration). These rules are designed to keep drivers alert and equipment operating within acceptable limits. To maintain compliance, charter bus companies must register with the US Department of Transportation and the FMCSA. At the time of registration, companies must present proof of an active insurance policy with a value of at least $5 million in coverage.
- In order to legally operate a motorcoach in the United States, drivers must:
- Be age 21 or older.
- Possess the ability to speak and write English fluently.
- Complete an approved motorcoach safety course.
- Obtain a CDL with passenger endorsement.
These requirements ensure that drivers have a solid knowledge and experience base that allows them to avoid accidents, respond in emergency situations, and keep their passengers safe throughout the journey.
In Canada, charter bus operations are regulated by the Motor Carrier Division of Transport Canada, charter buses that travel on Canadian roads are held to high safety standards. These include:
- Obtaining a safety fitness certificate that validates equipment, knowledge, and experience.
- Adhering to hours of service and rest rules that prevent fatigue-related accidents.
- Observing required recording procedures for work hours and equipment maintenance.
Governments set the minimum standards for passenger safety on charter buses.
Ways to Make Your Bus Trip More Secure
Implement these tips in your planning process to safeguard your group’s wellbeing during bus travel.
- Check the rental company’s safety records in the United States. Canadians renters do not have this option. However, you may find more information on a company’s performance record by calling your provincial office.
- Search the company’s name online. Reading reviews on 3rd party sites will give you a good idea of what previous renters have encountered.
- Pack emergency supplies like extra food and water, flashlights, and space blankets. Even on short trips, these items can be a lifesaver if things go wrong.
- Visually inspect the bus with the driver before hitting the road. Look for obvious signs of damage, worn or flat tires, or other signs of unaddressed wear-and-tear.
Statistically, bus travel is far safer than driving a regular passenger vehicle. With knowledge of government standards and a little research, you can increase those odds even further.
Planning a group bus trip? Get the facts on bus safety before you start your journey.