Charter Bus Safety Tips for Passengers

Charter Bus Safety Tips for Passengers

Wondering, “are charter buses safe?” We’ve got the answers.

While chartering a large bus for your group drive may leave you apprehensive, with adherence to the proper bus safety rules, as well as the oversight from organizations like the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a charter bus is a very safe mode of transportation.

Charter bus safety is higher than that of other transportation options, including both cars and air travel. And at Chicago Motor Coach, Inc., safety is a top priority, no matter the distance. However, we know that taking our word for it isn’t always enough, and that’s why we put together our top safety tips to ensure you feel safe, even before boarding our bus.

Ready to plan your next trip? Let’s go over the best bus safety tips to make sure you’re confident in your charter bus company choice.

Check Recent Safety Ratings

To ensure your bus safety, check the recent safety rating of your bus service. Once you select the bus company you’ll be using (or if you’re deciding between a few), check their safety performance results. You can do this on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website – all you need is the company or USDOT number.

Not sure how to interpret results? First, the most relevant indicator of their current safety status would be their most recent safety rating. One that is a few years old may not be a great testament to their current safety precautions.

Companies are rated as “satisfactory,” “conditional,” and “unsatisfactory.” You will want to choose a company with a “satisfactory” rating. A company that receives an “unsatisfactory” safety rating is a high safety risk and is prohibited from operating.

Ask about the Driver’s ID

Driver’s ID Bus Safety

To ensure the validity of the company and to check their safety records, you’ll want to inquire about the company’s U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) identification number to cross state lines, a company must have been granted “interstate authority” from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, who regulates bus companies. With this number, you can ensure that the company meets USDOT’s insurance requirements, as well as have the consolation that they can be reviewed and inspected by both state and federal authorities as needed. This is a great way to ensure the company follows bus safety rules.

In addition to the company’s ID number, you’ll want to check that their drivers all have a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). This verifies that they are qualified to operate the bus. Additionally, ask about the driver’s training, certifications, licenses, and how many years of experience they have to get a full picture of the qualifications of the company’s drivers. The more experience and requirements, the better for your bus safety!

Come Prepared

Your safety is not just in the hands of the drivers, so be sure you come prepared as well! Plan your route ahead of time to avoid any hiccups, and be sure you have your ID on you, as well as any contact numbers or medical information that may be relevant in the case of an emergency. At the end of the day, bus safety is reliant on both the bus company and the passengers.

Talk to Friends

Friends Talk Bus Safety

Who do you trust more than your friends and family? When it comes to charter bus safety, asking those that have been on a specific charter bus is a great way to get a review from someone you know and trust. Asking a friend or family member about their experience will not only reassure you or direct you to the perfect bus option but additionally will help you know what you need to be prepared and comfortable for your trip.

Inquire about Hours

A tired, overworked driver isn’t the safest when it comes to operating a charter bus. This is why inquiring about a driver’s hours is so important. To do this, you’ll want to verify that the company’s drivers follow DOT’s hours-of-service regulations. Not sure what this entails? Let’s discuss this.

  • Bus drivers can drive a maximum of 10 hours after 8 straight hours off duty
  • A bus driver cannot drive after 15 hours on duty. “On duty” in this case not only includes driving, but performing other work for the charter company, from maintenance, to record-keeping, or even sitting on the bus. Once the 15-hour limit has been reached, the driver has to take a minimum of 8 hours off.
  • In a seven-day time frame, a driver can only drive a maximum of 60 hours. Over eight days, the maximum hours are 70.

Adhering to the proper rules for driver’s hours not only ensures passenger safety, but the safety and wellbeing of the driver, too, and you’ll want to select a company that values both.

Find out Procedures and Policies

Bus Safety Tips Emergency

Before heading onto the bus for your trip, ask about their charter bus safety procedures and policies.

This can include everything from their emergency exit options, ensuring each bus has a fire extinguisher, as well as their typical processes for handling emergencies. Being prepared and knowledgeable about the bus company’s handling of situations will not only make you feel more safe getting on board but more prepared in the rare case a situation arises.

Additionally, check that the bus has wireless communication devices in the case of an emergency where a connection may be an issue.

Check on Communication

Communication is key! One of the most obvious bus safety signs is how a company communicates with you when booking your trip or asking any of our recommended safety questions.

On top of their day-to-day communication response, check that the bus company has a 24-hour emergency dispatch system that has live people operating it in the case of emergencies, unforeseen issues, or last-minute changes. You want to avoid a situation where, in the case of an emergency, you are instead met with an automated voice that directs you to call back during normal business hours. Not all trips happen between the normal 9-5, so ensure that your company has an emergency dispatch system that can help no matter when an incident occurs.

Buckle up!

Bus Seatbelts Safety

Don’t forget your seatbelt! This is one of the key bus safety features that are within your control. All you have to do is buckle up, and you’re taking some of your safety on a charter bus into your own hands.

Make sure your seatbelt is secure and not twisted or damaged in any way. You should wear your seatbelt for the entire time you are seated, except for, of course, when you’re getting up to use the restroom on board. We recommend you keep the seatbelt snug but comfortable. This simple step can make a world of difference!


Whether you require a charter bus for a school field trip, or as the perfect way to transport wedding guests to the big event, the safety of family and loved ones is always top of mind. But with this knowledge of bus safety rules, you can ensure that the company you select has all the bus safety features you need to feel safe on your trip.

As one of the most preferred bus companies in the Chicagoland area, Chicago Motor Coach Inc. makes safety a top priority. To book your next charter bus, get a free quote online today, or call us at 847-260-9797.

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