Are Charter Buses Safe? Unveiling the Road to Secure Journeys

January 20, 2022
Liz Arnold

Nowadays, travel is an important aspect of most people’s lives. Millions of people throughout the country travel daily for work, family, and entertainment purposes. Many passengers prefer to travel in a coach bus. It's cheap when compared to car or airplane travel, and it's easy to squeeze in a nap or even work during the trip. Plus, buses are extremely environmentally friendly. For example, it’d take about 10 cars to transport the same amount of passengers as a 44-passenger coach bus can. Less vehicles mean less carbon emission, it’s that simple!

But when it comes to choosing a means of transportation, convenience, and cost aren’t the only factors that should be taken into account; safety should also be considered. While bus travel is incredibly comfortable and cost-efficient, the question still remains: are charter buses safe? The answer is yes! Buses, according to statistics, are the second safest (after airplanes) means of travel. Here are a few reasons why:

Charter Bus Safety Statistics and Insights

Discover the safety statistics of charter buses, including fatality rates per billion miles traveled, and gain valuable insights into how charter buses compare to other modes of transportation in terms of safety. Explore the data and find out why charter buses are considered one of the safest ways to travel.

Fatality Rates per Billion Miles Traveled:

  • Buses: Boasting an impressively low rate of 0.11 deaths per billion miles, as calculated by Dr. Ian Savage of Northwestern University in his 2013 study, "Comparing the Fatality Risks in United States Transportation Across Modes and Over Time," initially published in Research in Transportation Economics.
  • Airplanes: 0.07 deaths per billion miles.
  • Transit rail: 0.24 deaths per billion miles.
  • Rail: 0.43 deaths per billion miles.
  • Ferries: 3.17 deaths per billion miles.
  • Cars: 7.28 deaths per billion miles.
  • Motorcycles: A staggering 212.57 deaths per billion miles.

Why Are Charter Buses Safe?

Let's explore the key reasons why charter buses are considered a secure and reliable choice for group tours:

#1. Charter Bus Drivers Are Certified and Trained

Charter bus companies are very careful with who they hire. Almost all bus or charter companies require their drivers to have a Commercial Driver's License (CDL). Bus driving qualifications are more challenging to achieve than they may seem. In addition to a regular driving record check, there are numerous tests, checks, and exams that drivers must take. Even after getting a CDL, they’re still required to get a physical every two years. Since car drivers don’t have to undergo these thorough and rigorous tests, CDL is one of the key components of coach bus safety.

However, having a CDL isn’t always enough to get the bus driver job. The requirements vary from one transporter company to another, but usually, there are background checks, alcohol and drug tests, and more driver's skills tests that occur during the interview. This helps charter bus companies be sure that their employees aren’t only certified but also skilled and experienced for this important job.

It's incredibly reassuring for the passengers to have experienced and properly trained professional drivers. This is why many charter bus companies invest in further training of their drivers. This maximizes passenger safety and ensures that the trip itself can go as quickly and smoothly as possible (all within the boundaries of the speed limits, of course).

With all of these factors considered, commercial bus drivers are some of the best and most experienced drivers on the road.

#2. Buses Are Maintained and Inspected Regularly

Buses Are Maintained and Inspected Regularly

Another added level of safety is the charter bus regulations. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has very strict and precise standards for maintenance procedures. Every modern transportation company follows these guidelines, as every bus gets an annual inspection by a certified technician.

In addition to the annual inspection by the FMCSA, buses get checked before and after every trip. Mechanics will carefully look for any kind of malfunction or damage done to the vehicle. Also, the condition of emergency exits, the integrity of the hull, and the inside of the bus are inspected thoroughly.

Charter buses also undergo a thorough cleaning procedure, so you won’t have to worry about other people’s messes or germs.

As you can see, charter bus safety is incredibly high, and achieving this same level of care for your personal vehicle is difficult. This is why car accidents occur more often than bus accidents. Also, due to incredibly thorough and regular inspections, buses tend to serve much longer and tend to have fewer malfunctions compared to cars.

#3. Adherence to Driving Hour Restrictions

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration also imposes strict regulations on the working hours of motor coach drivers. These guidelines are an important component of ensuring passenger safety. Fatigue is a leading contributor to auto accidents, and these regulations are designed to mitigate that risk and provide peace of mind for your group.

Charter bus drivers are permitted to operate their vehicles for a maximum of 10 hours before a mandatory downtime of 8 hours is required. This 10-hour period includes both driving with passengers and operating an empty coach bus. Drivers must also take an 8-hour break after being on duty for 15 hours, including not only driving but also tasks such as maintenance, record-keeping, or waiting on the motor coach.

In addition to these hourly limits, coach drivers must follow weekly restrictions, allowing them to work a maximum of 60 hours over 7 days or 70 hours over 8 days. By following these regulations diligently, your driver complies with the law and is better rested. Being more alert enables them to better prioritize the safety of you and your passengers.

#4. There Are Safety Features Built-In

The sheer construction of the vehicles is another reason why coach buses are safer than other modes of transportation. Here are some of the most essential features that ensure the safety of charter buses:

  • The size. First and most obvious: the bigger the vehicle, the harder it is to miss on the road, even in limited visibility conditions.
  • The frame. Usually, incredibly hard steel is used in the construction of a charter bus. The frame itself has an ergonomic design, adding to the maneuverability and stability of the bus. The sides of the construction are reinforced to add durability.
  • The seats. Every seat in a bus has cushions and seat belts. The stability and safety of the person sitting in it are at their maximum in case of a collision, thanks to careful engineering. Just don't forget to fasten your seatbelts!
  • The windows. Not only do some of the windows serve as emergency exits, but all of them are glazed to create fewer shards in case of an accident. This way, no passenger will get cut by the glass in case of breakage.  
  • The position of the passengers. Due to the big size of the wheels, every person in the bus is positioned higher above the ground than the rooftops of some of the cars passing by. This greatly adds to the safety of passengers, as in the case of a collision, every person on the bus will be above the danger.

Looking for a Trusted Charter Bus Company?

Even though the above has become a standard for most modern motor coach rental companies, it’s still crucial to check for these things. At Infinity Transportation, we always prioritize the safety of our passengers which is why we’re among the best charter bus company in Chicago. By hiring us for your next group bus travel, you can rest assured that the trip will be as safe as it can be. Give us a call at any time to book a bus for your upcoming event!

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How often should buses undergo a complete safety inspection by a certified professional?

The recommended frequency for bus safety inspections, as advised by regulatory bodies such as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in the United States, is at least one comprehensive inspection by a certified professional every 12 months. This ensures that buses are in optimal condition and align with safety and compliance standards.

What is the safest seat on a bus?

The optimal seating choice for safety on a bus is generally the seat directly behind the driver. This selection is advantageous because it provides passengers with the driver's clear line of sight to the road and surroundings, facilitating quick responses to any potential emergencies. When embarking on long-distance bus journeys, passengers often prefer seats situated in the center of the bus's cabin. This preference is due to the increased space and improved ease of movement. Additionally, it’s advisable to prioritize seats on the right side of the bus when available, as this ensures the driver can see passengers and quickly address unexpected situations.

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