My last column [BUSRide, January-February 2010, Risk Management] focused on the decision many operators could soon face with regard to retrofitting seatbelts to the existing fleet. Such a decision will ultimately come down to several factors that include cost, restraint capabilities, customer demand and risk.
Last year it became clear that the government would issue a seatbelt mandate for new motorcoaches. This would not come as a complete surprise to the industry given recent high profile fatal accidents involving ejections, and especially the motorcoach-specific crash testing NHTSA has conducted on the effectiveness of passenger restraints.
Mike Murray, president and CEO, FirstGroup America, spoke at the National Safety Council 96th Congress and Expo in October in Orlando, FL, on the role of EHS in an economic downturn, and why companies cannot afford to downgrade safety programs in a recession. He says safety is fundamental to customer service and the value of human life never changes, regardless of current economic conditions.
If an operator were asked to list the most important safety factors in a bus and motorcoach operation, what comes to mind as the five most important points?
Chances are slim to none that dispatch made that list. Many passenger transportation companies do not realize the dispatcher often is the forgotten ingredient in the safety soup.
Bus fires continue to be a pervasive problem for our industry. Speaking before the recent Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) safety summit in Washington D.C., I presented on the precise causes and origins of motorcoach fires, noting that insurance and government data indicate that across the United States two buses on average catch fire each day.