Are you thinking of traveling somewhere by bus? Going on a sightseeing tour, or climbing on board with a group of friends to go see the game? Are you maybe a little concerned about how safe you’ll be? Did you know that you can easily check out the bus company’s safety record? This article will discuss bus safety and how to check a bus company’s safety record.
Travel by Bus
I live in the Washington, DC area. Every day I watch as tour buses bring hundreds of individuals to see the sights: Mount Vernon, Arlington National Cemetery, WWII Memorial, and the list goes on. All over the country, people get on a bus to go on a tour, or head downtown with friends or co-workers to see the local sports team beat the visitors, or hop on a bus to travel to a new destination. For the vast majority of people, it’s a wonderful time.
According to the National Traffic Safety Board (NTSB), buses transport more than 700 million passengers annually.  Most travel to and from their destinations safely; after all, traveling by bus is one of the safest ways to travel. Still, despite the strong safety record of buses, more than 250 people were killed and more than 20,000 were injured in bus-related crashes in 2009.
In a continuing effort to increase bus safety, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the U.S. agency responsible for commercial interstate bus safety, has over the past several years significantly increased the number of bus inspections and comprehensive safety reviews, including unscheduled inspections. These increased enforcement efforts have resulted in bus companies taking the necessary steps to ensure their buses are safe, with an increase in the number of bus companies found compliant. It has also increased the number of companies taken out of service—to 54 in 2011.
Look Before You Book
Focusing on the phrase “Look Before You Book,” the FMSCA now gives us the tools we need to make sure that we are as safe as possible before boarding a bus. The FMSCA’s website and the SaferBus App, FMSCA’s downloadable app for smart phones (iPhone or Android) and iPads allow us to check the bus company’s safety record. All you do is provide the company name or the U.S. D.O.T. number located on the bus. You can then get up to 24 months of the bus company’s safety performance records. This information can cover several important safety categories: unsafe driving, fatigued driving, driver fitness, controlled substances/alcohol abuse, and vehicle maintenance. Percentages are provided, rating the bus company, with a higher percentage meaning a higher potential safety risk. It also tells you whether or not the company is legally allowed to operate.
Traveling on a bus should be a fun adventure—going to see national or local landmarks, having an enjoyable time with friends and family. One way to make sure the adventure starts—and ends—safely is to “Look Before You Book” with the FMSCA App, SaferBus.
How about you? Have you had a bus ride that was memorable—good or bad?
 These fatality and injury numbers include pedestrians or people riding in other motor vehicles.
 Like any other app, you can download SaferBus from either iTunes or Google Play, depending on the type of phone you own.
 FMCSA requires all bus companies to display their U.S. DOT and/or MC number on the exterior side of the vehicle.