Last year was one of the worst on record as far as accidents and casualties for the motorcoach industry, which in the past has typically been one of the safest modes of transportation.
If you take the amount of trips taken and compare that with the number of accidents, we’re talking pretty small potatoes; however, anybody in the industry will tell you one fatality is one too many. To that end, the U.S. Department of Transportation, through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), has undertaken an effort to make motorcoach travel as safe as possible, which includes raising the bar for those trying to enter the business and finding and rooting out operators that present potential risks to the public.
In fact, over the last couple of years, the FMCSA has significantly stepped-up its safety enforcement of motorcoaches and other commercial passenger carriers, including an increase of out-of-service orders, from 36 in 2008 to 54 in 2011, to remove unsafe passenger carriers from the road.
Further, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has studied, amongst other things, the use of seat belts on coaches, with a final rule imminent, and the National Transportation Safety Board continues to push for increased safety measures, all while politicians on Capitol Hill stump for drastic safety measures that could potentially hurt the industry.
Recently, to help make picking a motorcoach company easier for consumers, the FMCSA released its SaferBus iPhone/iPad application. The app puts safety information that is available on its website in the palm of a potential clients’ hand. It also plans on continuing its National Passenger Carrier Safety Strike Force, which carried out more than 8,300 safety inspections of motorcoaches, tour buses, school buses and other passenger carriers nationwide last September, this year. The two-week inspection sweep removed 902 unsafe vehicles or drivers from roadways around the nation.
Where I’m going with all of this is while these safety efforts are being somewhat publicized, they are not getting as much media attention as the motorcoach accidents that occur. This responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of operators who continue to conduct their businesses with safety at the forefront. Although efforts are being made locally by operators, now is the time to put together a national advertising program to both get the word out that motorcoach travel is safe and that efforts are being made to make it even safer. The idea was recently hatched at the UMA Expo by A Yankee Line Inc.'s Mike Costa, and I am in complete agreement. The industry simply can't afford to just keep taking a beating in the media.
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