When you take your seat on that bus to visit grandma in Atlantic City, you’re putting your life in the hands of a driver you don’t know and a bus company whose safety record you may not be familiar with. But a new app from the Dept. of Transportation aims to put some of that info in the palm of your hand… if you own an iPhone, that is.
The new, free SaferBus App for iOS devices is intended to deliver the most up-to-date bus safety information so that consumers can know what they’re getting into before they book a ticket.
Typing in the bus company’s name or US DOT registration number will bring up a set of icons indicating whether or not that company has crossed a safety threshold in any of five categories:
* Unsafe Driving — Operating in a dangerous or careless manner. (ex.: speeding, reckless driving, improper lane change, and inattention.)
* Fatigued Driving (Hours-of-Service) — Operating by drivers who are ill, fatigued, or in non-compliance with the Hours-of-Service (HOS) regulations. (ex.: exceeding HOS, maintaining an incomplete or inaccurate logbook, and operating while ill or fatigued.)
* Driver Fitness — Operating by drivers who are unfit to operate due to lack of training, experience, or medical qualifications. (ex.: failing to have a valid and appropriate commercial driver’s license and being medically unqualified to operate.)
* Controlled Substances and Alcohol — Operating by drivers who are impaired due to alcohol, illegal drugs, and misuse of prescription or over-the-counter medications.
* Vehicle Maintenance — Failure to properly maintain a commercial motor vehicle. (ex.: brakes, lights, and other mechanical defects, and failure to make required repairs.)
Tapping on each of these icons will bring up specifics about the company’s safety record.
Information is updated monthly and represents the previous 24 months of activity.
You can also use the SaferBus app to file a safety-related complaint about a bus company.
“We are fortunate to live in a time when app developers and government agencies are working together to make more and more information available to individual citizens,” writes DOT Secretary Ray LaHood. “And it’s no surprise that, at DOT, our first foray into the app world focuses on our number one priority: safety.”
Following a number of incidents on interstate bus lines, motor coach companies have come under more scrutiny from regulators in recent years.
In November, the National Transportation Safety Board released information showing that passengers on a bottom-dollar bus are significantly more likely to be involved in a fatal accident.