2016 SAFE DRIVER HALL OF FAME Presented by: PREVOST
Russ Lippincott and Lee Roy Weems were chasing 3 million miles when they retired from Village Charters and Tours
Retired coach drivers and 2012 inductees Russ Lippincott and Lee Roy Weems recap their careers as friends and colleagues in this installment of the BUSRide Safe Driver Hall of Fame, presented by Prevost. Both started out with Continental Trailways and Greyhound Bus Lines in the mid 1970s before finding their true calling: driving motorcoaches for Village Charters and Tours, Wichita, KS.
In their 30-plus year careers, Lippincott and Weems each logged approximately 2.7 million miles without a chargeable accident, and earned Greyhound and Trailways Safe Driver Awards every year they served with those companies.
Weems began with Continental Trailways in 1974 and eventually moved to Greyhound. By 1985, after he had seen “the writing on the wall,” he stepped away and formed a small partnership to found Prestige Charters, Wichita, KS, with three coaches, as well as his own travel agency. Five years later he sold his share of Prestige to join Village Charters & Tours.
Lippincott joined Continental Trailways in 1976 and drove 10 months for Greyhound after it bought Trailways. During that time, Weems called on him to drive part-time as needed for Prestige. Lippincott moved over to Village Charters and Tours, driving alongside Weems until they retired around the same time; Weems in late 2013, Lippincott in early 2014.
What did you enjoy most about driving motorcoaches?
Lippincott: Driving charter tours, I had the chance to go to so many different places rather than covering the same line runs. I thoroughly enjoyed running all over the country and seeing all I could. I still do that, only by driving my car.
Weems: When we started Prestige, it was nice to operate new equipment for a change. As far as driving, it was the same for me. I enjoyed the many places I got to visit with Village Tours and the people I took there. I also enjoyed the work we did with the military, transporting soldiers.
As you both retired with no chargeable accidents, what helped you maintain sterling safety records?
Weems: Luck probably had as much to with it as skill and training. But at Trailways, we were taught to not exceed our physical limits in terms of hours of service, and to do all we could to keep ourselves in good health. Toward the end I had a medical condition I could no longer control, and my doctor and I concluded that the time had come.
Lippincott: I was always well aware of what was happening around me, using the mirrors and looking far out ahead to see what was happening in traffic. That allowed me enough time to react. I was confident in my abilities, but I had to always be watching out for what those other drivers were going to do – especially when I was making
Weems: I always took a lot of care with my pre-trip inspections, just to be certain everything was in place and nothing needed fixing before starting out. During the trip, I would re-check and keep watch between stops. I also think we were fortunate at Village Tours to drive the same coach the majority of the time. It helped that I could just get the feel of that one vehicle, to know all of its ins and outs.
Lippincott: Working with the passengers was another safety concern. Of all the groups I carried, most were great to work with. But occasionally, there was one that could get under my skin in some way, and it was a matter of remaining calm and not allowing the group to distract me from concentrating on my driving. It wasn’t always easy, but I learned to stay calm and let it pass, and to not take out any of my anger on the road.