When it comes to traveling with students, safety is everyone’s top priority – the parents, directors, chaperones and travel planners. Student safety is a broad topic and one that we’re passionate about, so today we’re going to focus on one piece of that puzzle: safety on the road.
We organize and lead student performance tours all over the world, but at least 80% of them are to “drive-able” destinations where students travel by bus. It’s a safe, cost effective mode of transportation that lends itself to some pretty fantastic memory making before students even arrive at their destination. But it’s important to understand the do’s and don’t’s of traveling by bus before those wheels start turning. Here are our best practices when it comes to bus travel:
DO – Use DOT-compliant coach companies
There are hundreds of tour bus operators and coach companies. Make sure the company you choose is fully compliant with the Department of Transportation (DOT). We’ve developed relationships with companies we trust and only use DOT-compliant vendors for our trips.
DON’T – Expect the driver to enforce the rules
Before the bus pulls out, the driver will share all the safety information and bus rules with everyone on board. Make sure all students and adults on board are paying attention to this quick safety briefing. Once those rules have been shared, the driver’s primary responsibility is to get your group safely from Point A to Point B, not monitoring behavior. It’s up to the director/chaperones to make sure all of those safety guidelines are being followed on board.
DO – Wear seatbelts
We’re seeing more and more coaches equipped with seatbelts and, while they’re not required in every state, we recommend you wear them. We predict in the next few years, seatbelts will be standard equipment AND required across the country.
DON’T – Wake the driver
One important DOT regulation concerns the number of driver hours and rest that are required and tracked through electronic logbooks. In fact, most buses will automatically turn off when that maximum drive time has been reached. If your group is stopping for the night (instead of swapping out drivers, which is necessary on longer road trips), your driver will be calling it a night and logging important rest hours. If you wake him or her to retrieve something left on the bus, those rest hours still need to be met before you can head out in the morning, which means a later departure time for your group. So make sure your driver gets all the beauty sleep the DOT requires.
DO – Pack enough water
While these days everyone carriers a water bottle, make sure you’ve packed enough bottled water for every passenger on board. Road trips can be long and it’s important to keep everyone hydrated.
If you need additional bus-specific safety tips and information, don’t hesitate to ask. We’ll be sharing more of our best safety practices in coming posts – everything from air travel and hotel safety, to staying safe in the big city. So stay tuned!
If you are lookin for more safety tips now, download our comprehensive safety guide!