Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Transportation released a new motorcoach safety action plan, focusing on issues including driver fatigue and inattention, vehicle rollovers, occupant ejections and oversight of unsafe carriers.
The plan is available on the U.S. DOT Website. In short, the next steps will be to protect occupants by initiating a rulemaking for installing seat belts on all motorcoaches; address driver fatigue by requiring electronic on-board recording devices on all coaches; ensure safer driver performance by forbidding texting and the use of cell phones and other similar devices; developing a national drug and alcohol testing database to assist carriers in identifying a driver with a history of substance abuse; and to enhance oversight of carriers attempting to evade sanctions and of other unsafe motorcoach companies.
That last one may be especially urgent.
Over the past year, I’ve asked motorcoach operators about safety issues in general, and the prospect of adding seat belts in particular. The response tends to be that, while operators are very concerned about the safety of both drivers and passengers, and want to do everything possible to that end, adding new equipment can be costly, complicated and time-consuming. These operators say they feel that the onus for safety is often placed unfairly on those who are already safe. Many have also pointed to recent motorcoach accidents with fatalities that could have been prevented, had coach inspectors been doing their jobs.
Dallas Fort Worth’s Star-Telegram has reported on the recent arrest of three inspectors linked to the Sherman, Texas bus crash in 2008. The Department of Public Safety conducted a three-week investigation into the company in question and discovered that it had issued hundreds of inspection stickers a month to vehicles that were never inspected. Clearly, even more diligent enforcement is necessary at all levels.
Hopefully, the rules/results stemming from the U.S. DOT plan will strike an appropriate balance between guiding enforcement of safety and realistic expectations for what adjustments operators can make. What are your expectations/hopes/fears?
It drives me nuts when people litter. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people throw trash out of their car windows while they’re driving. I’m always tempted to honk my horn when I see drivers slyly ditching cigarette butts through their open window. Listen up, people. We see you!
Agencies that use Twitter to respond to users’ complaints or answer questions get more positive Twitter reaction and more civil discourse online, according to Lisa Schweitzer the author of a recent study analyzing tweets of public transit agencies. “It’s about the marketing potential of social media — a lot of public transit agencies are simply tweeting their problems to the world by blasting out late service announcements. That’s not a good use of Twitter,” she says. “Transit agencies can influence the tone of the discussion by interacting with patrons online,” Schweitzer explains. “It gives people something to respond to, and it reminds people that somebody is listening.”
Usually by early January, I will hopefully have taken down the last of our holiday decorations and eaten or given away the remaining sweets that have become a part of my regular diet during the month of December. Then, of course like most people, I’ll think about ways I want to improve myself for the coming year. Whether it be exercising more (walking from the parking lot to my office doesn’t count), eating less ice cream or managing my email better. The latter practice alone would help improve my efficiency at work immensely. I’m sure you probably feel the same way.
A new National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) study solidifies what the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) Transit Savings Report has been telling us for years now: riding public transportation can save users money.
June 20 will mark the 8th annual National Dump the Pump Day sponsored by the American Public Transportation Association, in partnership with the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council.