The National Association for State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) posted several online resources discussed last month during a Bus Safety Roundtable sponsored by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
The FMCSA's Safer Mobile App can be downloaded to Android or iPhone to search for bus company safety ratings by DOT number. Other links include the FMCSA "Look Before You Book" website that contains educational information and resources on charter trips, the Interstate Passenger Carrying Driver's Guide to Hours of Service and FMCSA regional and state contacts.
Derek Graham, the state director at the North Carolina Office of Public Instruction, represented NASDTPS at the roundtable event in Washington, D.C., and reported that U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx outlined "the overall importance of student safety when traveling on motorcoaches. Other speakers included DOT Deputy Administrator Bill Bronrott and FMCSA Chief Safety Officer Jack Van Steenburg.
Graham said Van Steenburg emphasized the importance of proper operating authority by motor carriers, hours of service, safe drivers and equipment. He also provided an overview of FMCSA's Operation Quick Strike, which STN reported last month put 52 bus companies and 340 vehicles out of business and removed from the road for violations.
Graham said the roundtable also discussed key elements of how schools or other organizations should make decision on chartering a motorcoach for a trip, namely: choosing a safe bus/company; finding a safe driver who has a current CDL and a valid DOT medical card; and planning a safe trip by denoting the hours of service, providing for multiple drivers, if needed, and considering safety in the contract.
In addition to the links provided on the NASDPTS Motor Coach page, the roundtable also provided the "Top 3 Things to Know When Planning Your Next Bus Trip" and a link to the FMCSA's Facebook Bus Safety Hub.
Late last year, NHTSA required that three-point, lap-and-shoulder seat belts on all new motorcoaches to increase passenger safety.