My passengers have been talking nearly every day about the Megabus accident a couple of weeks ago.
“Bob, any low bridges on this route?”
“You’re not taking the parkway today are you, Bob?”
And so on.
I don’t know any more about the accident than what I read in the papers and online, so I’m not in a position to make any judgments about what the driver did or didn’t do. But accidents like this serve as a reminder to all of us drivers that we have to be vigilant at all times when we’re behind the wheel.
A few additional thoughts:
1) Know where you are going. I say this so often: DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Don’t rely on someone else — a dispatcher, lead driver, group leader, tour escort — to do your homework for you. They can certainly help, but don’t rely solely on them.
2) When you do make a mistake — a wrong turn, a missed exit, etc. — remind yourself that you are now at a higher risk to compound your error by making another, possibly worse error. You must be twice as vigilant!
Do not rush — find a safe spot to pull off the road, if necessary, to check a map, check your GPS or iPad, or ask for directions. Believe me, your passengers would rather lose a couple of minutes of time for directions than lose a couple of hours after an accident, or, heaven forbid, suffer the physical consequences of an accident.
3) Remember, if a highway is called a parkway, it is usually intended for cars only — no buses, no trucks. And the primary reason it’s limited to cars is because of low bridges ahead. There are exceptions, of course — the Garden State Parkway in New Jersey, and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway in Maryland, for instance — both allow buses, but not trucks.
There are low bridges, however they are high enough for buses. But if you don’t know for certain that a parkway is safe for buses, don’t take a chance.
4) Watch the signs. We are fortunate in the U.S. and Canada in that most obstacles to buses and trucks are pretty well marked in advance — bridge heights and weight restrictions, especially. When you’re on a road you’ve rarely or never traveled before, you’ve got to be extra watchful for those signs.
Most accidents are preventable: know where you are going, be vigilant, and drive smart. Keep the odds in your favor.
For more information and links for motorcoach drivers, visit my website, EightWheels.com.
Bob Bergey is a motorcoach driver based in Fanconia, PA.