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motorcoach company's safety ranking

Ways to Improve Your Motorcoach Company’s Safety Ranking

By | Commercial Lines | No Comments

Last October, the Cornell Daily Sun reported that a charter bus operated by Ithaca, N.Y.-based Big Red Bullet crashed in Pennsylvania, killing one passenger and injuring the driver as well as the remaining 12 passengers. The driver faced 33 criminal charges, including Homicide by Vehicle While Driving Under the Influence. As of this writing — and according to the FMCSA Safety and Fitness Electronic Records (SAFER) system — the company may not operate.

While this is a worst-case scenario, it does serve as a cautionary tale about the value of a motorcoach company’s safety ranking. Here’s what you can do to improve your company’s safety ranking and ensure it remains positive.

 

Choose Your Motorcoach Drivers Carefully

Returning to Big Red Bullet for a moment, the Cornell Daily Sun also reported that the driver of the bus that crashed not only fell asleep at the wheel but was later found to have traces of cocaine in his system.

Your bus drivers are arguably your most important assets when it comes to motorcoach safety. Always validate the drivers’ safety records. Check for up-to-date CDL licenses and medical fitness to operate a motorcoach. Also conduct background checks. When conducting them yourself, you might not be able to access the correct information. Instead, outsource this to a provider that specializes in conducting background checks.

Credit reporting agency TransUnion said that a traditional background check will include motor vehicle records, the element most important to you. Also look check a prospective employee’s credit report for signs of irresponsible behavior. “Any missed payments or bankruptcies could signal signs of being irresponsible elsewhere, and negatively separate you from the competition,” said Jill Gonzalez, an analyst writing for CNBC Make It. Check for criminal history as well.

Remember, though — you have to ask the applicant for permission to do a background check.

 

Address Vehicle Maintenance Issues

Just like an automobile, a motorcoach in good working order will operate more safely than one in poor physical condition. And just like a car, your motorcoach comes with an owner’s manual that recommends service intervals for key items. Make proper engine oil changes a top priority for ongoing motorcoach maintenance, followed by oil and air filter changes.

Note where the rubber literally hits the road — your vehicles’ tires. Get them regularly inspected and rotated. Regular tire rotation and alignment will result in better tread wear, and thus longer tire life. And, of course, replace the tires when they wear out.

You can expect tire maintenance to be somewhat costly — a spokesperson for Goodyear in an article for Transport Topics called it the second most costly fleet maintenance expense behind fuel. However, it confers a financial benefit. Specifically, well-maintained tires reduce fuel consumption. Fleet Equipment says that, for every 10% a tire is underinflated, there will be a corresponding 1% decrease in fuel economy. Applied across several tires on a vehicle — and several vehicles in a fleet — it’s easy to see how tire maintenance improves your bottom line.

 

Ensure you Comply with Regulations

The FMCSA factors both driver fitness and vehicle maintenance into your overall safety rating. But there are a few other safety areas defined by the FMCSA that also apply to motor coach companies:

  • Unsafe Driving
  • Hours-of-Service (HOS) Compliance
  • Controlled Substances and Alcohol

Hopefully if you find and hire good drivers, both unsafe driving and drug or alcohol abuse will not become issues. However, many companies run afoul of HOS compliance. Simply put, you can’t work your drivers to death. They can only drive so many hours in a day, and they are required to sleep a certain number of hours each day. Federal codes  CFR 392 and 395 address this

Fortunately, you need not ever find yourself with a poor safety rating from the FMCSA. They provide a myriad of tools to help motor coach operators meet safety standards and improve if they find they are falling behind. The provide a Motor Carrier Safety Planner that makes it easy to research and implement safety protocols for motorcoach companies.

 

IMAGE: Pixabay / CC0 Public Domain

holiday season safety

Prepare Your Fleet for the Holiday Season

By | Transportation | No Comments

With increased workload, more traffic, and possibly inclement weather, the holiday season brings a feast of risk for truckers. Ensuring holiday season safety for your fleet involves two components. The first component requires checking, updating, and stocking the vehicles for cold conditions. The second consideration involves educating drivers in the best practices for winter weather driving. Combining the two offers the best protection for fleet owners and independent truckers.

 

Preparing Commercial Vehicles for Holiday Season Driving

Commercial vehicles carry greater safety concerns due either their weight or whether they carry passengers. Both of those factors pose safety issues of major importance. Prepping a vehicle for winter may add a bit of time and extra vigilance, but the results are well worth it. Regularly inspect tires, batteries, and antifreeze, at minimum. FleetEquipmentMag.com also recommends having “cold-weather clothing and footwear, a shovel, flashlight with extra batteries, blankets, first aid kit, flares, radio, anti-gel fuel additive and food and water.” Drivers and commercial truck driving companies should create, build upon, and adhere to their own lists.

 

Preparing Commercial Drivers for Holiday Season Driving

Following a thorough winterization of your fleet for the holiday season, you should also prepare the drivers. An essential part of any fleet operation includes safety training. Preparing for winter driving should be no exception. Ryder posts a helpful list of safety tips for truckers. Prominently mentioned on those lists are driver stress and fatigue, the risks of which can increase with winter driving conditions. Experts overwhelmingly agree that pulling a vehicle off the road when drowsiness or fatigue sets is the best course of action. The added risks of winter driving should make a yearly appearance in addition to other training.

 

Continuing Education Improves Winter Driving Safety

Education for fleet drivers for holiday season driving should also include reminders of troublespots. A fantastic list of safety tips by DMV.org points out such winter driving hazards as black ice, exit ramps, bridges, intersections, and areas prone to high winds. Keeping drivers up to date on training and alert of conditions is a step in the right direction.

 

Drunk Driving Hazards for Truckers during the Holiday Season

The holiday season also sees an increase in drunk driving. Independent truckers and fleet drivers should exercise extra caution on dates historically known to have a higher number of impaired drivers on the road, as well as any other time during the season. Transportation.gov reported that in the U.S., 781 fatalities related to drunk driving crashes occurred in 2016, just in the month of December.

 

Continued Insurance Coverage Assurance for Winter Driving

With road dangers higher during the holiday season for trucking and transportation, insurance becomes a major concern as well. A fundamental and rather simple means to improve safety for fleets and drivers is to confirm current insurance coverage and that it provides for all of the potential risks.

 

Peace of Mind for Truckers this Holiday Season

Getting ready in advance will reduce stress later on in the winter months. Create a checklist now with dates to apply each step. With awareness of the risks, mindful preparation, training, and proper coverage for drivers, you can head into the holiday season with a greater peace of mind.

PHOTO: Pixabay / CC0 Public Domain