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Look before you book: Mobile app provides instant access to bus company safety records

Written by Steve Gursten Posted March 23rd, 2013

SaferBus App allows consumers instant access to motor carriers’ safety data so they can make informed, safety-conscious decisions before purchasing trips

saferBusWe recently wrote about a new smartphone app geared toward truckers.  Now, there’s a new smartphone app geared toward passengers.

The past few months there have been marred by some high profile bus accidents.  Sadly, these completely preventable motor coach crashes left innocent people dead.  When you are purchasing a bus ticket or otherwise paying a company to transport you, or your loved ones, safety is supposed to be  the number one priority.  But sadly that is not the reality.

The reality is that when a passenger buys a bus ticket, it’s  taken for granted that the motor coach carrier is safe and obeys mandatory government safety regulations.  But after a bus accident, a different story tends to emerge.

Motor coach cases are aggressively defended by the big bus companies, and several members and affiliated lawyers of the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable such as Robert Collins and Morgan Adams, Larry Simon, as well as all 3 founding members have litigated cases with motor coach carriers such as Greyhound, USA Bus Charter and SMART where these lawyers have fought turning over company safety manuals and other legal discovery that would show clear violations.

Bus crashes like the one in California, show it is becoming increasingly common that these companies are not following the rules.

And that is why I am writing this blog today, so  you as a consumer can also take steps to to protect your safety and look before you book.

A new smartphone app called SaferBus App, developed by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), allows users to easily and conveniently access a carrier’s safety performance record as documented by the FMCSA right from your mobile phone. The app supports other functions as well, like filing a complaint, for example.

Specifically, consumers can look up motor carriers to discover:

  • Bus company operating authority and insurance status – The app notifies consumers of illegal interstate bus companies that are not permitted to operate. Do not use bus companies are not authorized to operate by U.S. DOT, or that do not comply with Federal insurance requirements.  One of the functions of SaferBuss App is to notify consumers about these companies who would otherwise fly under the radar.
  • View bus safety performance records – You may view a detailed performance record of the companies you are considering.  Making this critical information available allows consumers to make fully informed, safety-conscious decisions. The user is given access to up to 24 months of a bus company’s safety performance data with the FMCSA. This data provides a glimpse at the company’s performance in several categories, including: unsafe driving, fatigued driving, driver fitness, controlled substances/alcohol, and vehicle maintenance. The categories are scored in terms of percentage.  Higher risk carriers will have higher scores; higher percentage equals high risk!
  • Bus company safety results – SaferBus notifies consumers about companies with an unsatisfactory safety rating.

The FMCSA issues three categories of ratings:

  1. The first, and highest rating, is Satisfactory. This means the company is in compliance with applicable law.
  2. The second is Conditional.  Bus companies with a Conditional rating is still risky (Michael Leizerman discusses the differences in these safety ratings extensively in his book, Litigating Motor Carrier Case smay be riskier travel options.
  3. The third, and worst rating, is Unsatisfactory.  Unsatisfactory companies should not be operating, period!  (And that comes from the FMCSA; not us).

This newly developed app is a great move by the travel authorities.  So next time you or somebody you know  is planning to travel via motor carrier, make sure to check out the company you’re traveling with on SaferBus!

Of course, for people who do not have compatible mobile devices, the same information about carriers is available online at the FMCSA Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) website.

Travel safely, everyone.

Steven Gursten Photo

About Steve Gursten

Attorney Steven Gursten is president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association and past president of the American Association for Justice Trucking Litigation Group. He has been named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Leader in the Law" for his efforts to prevent truck accidents and promote national truck safety. Steve was also a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Lawyer of the Year" for a record settlement in a truck accident case. He has received the top reported truck accident jury verdict and top reported truck accident settlement in Michigan for multiple years, according to published year-end compilations of all jury verdicts and personal injury settlements by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He has been named a "Top 50 Super Lawyer," by SuperLawyers, is listed in Best Lawyers in America, and has been awarded an AV-rating by Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating for legal ability and ethics. Steve speaks to lawyers throughout the country on truck accident litigation. He is a founding member of the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable, head of Michigan Auto Law, and has dedicated his legal career to making our roads safer.
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