Thanks to the unbelievably high costs of airline tickets and the overall hassle posed by driving their own vehicle, more people than ever are now choosing to travel by bus to their respective destinations.
While this makes perfect sense, it's still important to keep safety in mind while choosing from among the over 4,000 registered bus carriers currently operating on the roads and highways here in the U.S. That's because serious bus accidents directly attributable to bus carrier and/or driver negligence can -- and do -- occur.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, there are three steps that prospective bus passengers can take to help improve the odds that their trip will be a safe one.
In today's post, we'll examine the first step recommended by the FMCSA: choosing a safe bus carrier.
A person should understand that federal regulations dictate that all interstate bus carriers must have an operating authority registration from the FMCSA and a USDOT number, along with a minimum of $5 million in insurance coverage and services that are compliant with regulations under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
This information can all be accessed via the FMCSA website, and if a person discovers via research there that a potential carrier is lacking any of the above, they should reconsider their options.
Another step a person will want to take is determining what type of safety rating the carrier has been awarded by the FMCSA.
There are three possible ratings awarded to bus carriers. The first, satisfactory, is the highest rating. The next highest rating is conditional, which means the company may be lacking the sufficient safety management controls needed to remain compliant with FMCSA standards. The third rating, unsatisfactory, means the bus carrier should not be in operation.
(If a bus carrier is lacking a safety rating, it means investigators have yet to compare their operations with applicable regulations.)
As before, this information is accessible via the FMCSA website. Needless to say, a person would probably want to consider using only those bus carriers that have earned a satisfactory rating.
We'll continue to examine this topic in future posts. In the meantime, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional if you or a loved one has suffered devastating injuries in a bus crashcaused by the recklessness of either the bus carrier or another motorist.
Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, "Top 3 things to know when planning your next bus trip," Nov. 26, 2014