By Debbie Hersman
This past weekend I attended the American Bus Association’s 2012 Marketplace in Grapevine, Texas, a great opportunity to get up to date about advances in bus industry. At the invitation of Peter Pantuso, ABA’s President and CEO, on Sunday I addressed the Bus Industry Safety Council (BISC) and participated in a roundtable for Women In Buses Group.
In talking with attendees about driver fatigue, I learned about an innovative sleep apnea screening program conducted by GO Riteway Transportation Group in Wisconsin. On distraction, I learned that most bus and tour operators have established policies prohibiting bus drivers from texting and using cell-phones while operating the bus, except for emergency situations, and many operators have had these rules in place for years.
I saw emerging safety technologies on buses on the showroom floor. MCI, Prevost, Setra, and VanHool all had motorcoaches on display showing advanced technologies including integrated lap/shoulder belts at all passenger seating positions, enhanced driver protection systems, electronic stability control systems, fire detection and suppression systems, anti-lock braking systems, and traction control systems. In addition, many of these companies have systems to alert drivers to unintended lane departures and to avoid or prevent collisions. Manufacturers are working to incorporate these technologies into the vehicles so that the driver’s workload is reduced by the technology, not increased. Further, many in the industry are making these improvements voluntarily, in the absence of government mandates or requirements.
Motorcoach travel is very safe, but we know we can make it even safer. If we focus on improving bus operations and occupant safety as well as addressing fatigue and distraction, we can not only chase, but reach, our goal of zero accidents.