INDUSTRY GROUP REACTS TO RECENT MEDIA REPORTS REGARDING BUS SAFETY
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Steve Klika
INDUSTRY GROUP REACTS TO RECENT MEDIA REPORTS REGARDING BUS SAFETY
Overland Park, KS - In light of recent national media attention of charter bus safety, the International Motor Coach Group (IMG) would like to take this opportunity to highlight what consumers should look for when chartering a motorcoach.
According to congressional testimony in March of 2007 by representatives of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), mile for mile motorcoaches are one of the safest forms of commercial passenger transportation. Approximately 3,700 interstate motorcoach companies are registered in the FMCSA database to operate over 34,000 motorcoaches in the United States and approximately 100,000 motorcoach drivers have Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDLs) with passenger endorsements.
The media has focused on the SafeStat rating system imposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) as the main aspect to look at when chartering a motorcoach. These ratings are based on the company’s operation within the more recent 12 month period prior to the inspection. If a conditional or un-satisfactory rating is given it could take a number of months for a re-inspection although the problems have been corrected. Roughly half of the registered motorcoach operators have been inspected by the Department of Transportation.
The FMCSA’s own website states: “Accordingly, SafeStat’s ability to accurately and objectively assess the safety fitness of individual motor carriers may be inconsistent and not conclusive without additional analysis.”
“I would encourage those seeking a complete picture of an operator to review additional aspects of their safety program and operations including investigation of their driver selection and training program, maintenance program, and even a visit to a company's physical facilities to ascertain a more complete picture of an operator,” stated Matthew Daecher, Daecher Consulting Group which specializes in Commercial Vehicle and Passenger Transportation Operations. “Operators who go beyond regulatory safety requirements, such as those who utilize IMG's driver training program, are the ones school personnel should be using to transport their students,” he added.
IMG and IMG Operators are committed to the safety of their customers and employees. IMG staff continually performs safety and operation audits on all our members and independent audits are also performed by insurance carriers and motorcoach safety advisors.
Consumers should also resist the urge to use brokers when chartering a motorcoach. When dealing with a broker you are basing your decision on what they are telling you about a company they may or may not have direct knowledge about. Brokers historically do not perform audits on companies in their databases and tend to provide price only when quality of service and equipment should also be taken into consideration. When you deal directly with a motorcoach company you can find out more about the company and build a relationship.
IMG offers the following guidelines when choosing a motorcoach company:
• The Company
What is the experience and history of the company?
The reputation of a company depends on stability and efficiency. Bigger is not necessarily better, but those wishing to charter a motorcoach should be aware that an inexperienced company may hot have the full range of technical and managerial support necessary to provide world-class service.
• The Vehicle
What is the size of the fleet?
Overall fleet size is important. It provides a gauge of the operator’s ability to supply a selection of coaches for various trip needs and to furnish an alternate vehicle in the event of unforeseen mechanical issues. The right coach and back-up support will ensure a trouble-free transportation experience.
How old is the fleet?
The vehicle’s age is very important. Remember, however that modern coaches do have a long life when maintained properly. Consumers should consider a motorcoach’s overall condition and cleanliness as signs of a well-maintained fleet. Modern coaches have the advantage of upgraded safety mechanisms that older coaches may not have. Additions to look for include: GPS tracking systems and driver-camera technology.
• The Staff
What about driver training?
IMG has instituted the only mandated driver training program in the industry. The IMG Driver Training Program was developed by IMG Operators, IMG safety directors, as well as driver safety consultants and insurance professionals. The program consists of 16 modules covering subjects ranging from federal, state and local laws to road vehicle handling exercises and safe driving. Drivers are required to complete online training modules and pass certification tests in order to continue driving for an IMG Operator.
What type of drug/alcohol screening program does the company have in place?
Ask the company to supply a copy of its written drug/alcohol policy and drug/alcohol testing program. Never charter from a company that does not strongly enforce a drug/alcohol free workplace.
• The Facility
Can I visit the facility?
Ask your prospective charter company if you can tour the facility and look at some of the equipment. If your request is not granted, look for another charter company.
When was your last Department of Transportation inspection?
Ask your prospective charter company what rating they received from their last review. If a company does not have any rating, it means they have never been visited by the Department of Transportation.
Is the company approved by the Department of Defense to transport military personnel and what rating did they receive?
Department of Defense approved carriers undergo a facility, terminal and equipment inspection every two years. The DOD monitors carriers’ performance for continued compliance.
How much liability insurance does the company carry?
Five million in liability insurance is the minimum requirement for motorcoach operators. All IMG Operators carry $5 million and in some cases IMG Operators carry $10 million.
There are many aspects to consider when chartering a motorcoach. As an industry leader IMG promotes the highest standards of safety as it relates to equipment, maintenance and driver training. IMG also promotes the education of our current and potential customers. With this in mind, IMG has produced a brochure entitled Chartering with Confidence which is available by contacting our office at 913-906-0111.
The International Motor Coach Group (IMG) consists of over 50 motorcoach companies located in the United States and Canada. Owner/Operators of IMG represent the best transportation companies in the industry. Membership in IMG is by invitation only and potential members have to receive 100% support from current members to be included.