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Keep Your Buses Running Safely

Every day across the US, tens of millions of people head out the front door and hop onto some form of public transportation (PT). According to the American Public Transportation Association, 2019 saw Americans taking some form of public transport 34 million times every weekday, totaling more than 9.9 BILLION individual trips. 

Lead by millennials, with their penchant for nearly non-stop digital socializing, ridership has increased 28% over the past quarter century alone, resulting in a $74 billion industry that employs more than 436,000 people. 

Every segment of American society—-individuals, families, communities, and businesses—benefits from public transportation. It is a lifeline for millions of Americans connecting them to people, places and possibilities. It also builds thriving communities, creates jobs, eases traffic congestion and promotes a cleaner environment. Investment in public transportation spurs both the local and national economy.

In our culture, it’s buses that literally “own the road” when it comes to popularity and volume of ridership. From the school and inter-city buses bringing local riders to nearby destinations, to the interstate and charter motor coaches that carry people across entire states and regions, buses have long been counted on for fast, convenient, affordable and efficient travel. 

What many people may not realize, however, is how safe these forms of transportation really are, even as concerns over COVID-19 move to the forefront. 

The simple truth is, transit and school buses are designed for greater passenger protections, and are among the most heavily regulated vehicles on the road -- far more than personal vehicles and even most kinds of commercial freight-hauling vehicles.  

The facts speak for themselves:

  • A person can reduce his or her chance of being in an accident by more than 90% simply by taking public transit as opposed to commuting by car.
  • Traveling by public modes of transportation such as buses is 10 times safer per mile than traveling by automobile.
  • Students are about 70 times more likely to get to school safely when taking a bus instead of traveling by car. 

 Though many of the safety features of buses, motor coaches and other public-transport vehicles are part of the vehicle design, it’s your job as a fleet transportation manager to always be on the lookout for ways to make each of your vehicles safer. Accessories and additions such as emergency escape Seat Belt Cutters, high-visibility Conspicuity Tape, interior and exterior Vehicle Lighting equipment and First Aid Kits designed specifically for mass transit vehicles can go a long way in making the already safe even safer.

Seat Belt Cutters

In some circumstances, seat belts and seat belt extensions can actually hinder an escape to safety. That’s where a Seat Belt Cutter can be a lifesaver. High-quality seat belt cutters allow for passengers to be quickly freed from jammed or tangled seat restraint systems in the event of collision or other emergency. 

When making your selection, avoid bargain cutters and seek out the highest quality available. Models with sharp, high-strength steel blades offer the best performance when seconds may count. Choose a “safety blade” model, where the blade is mounted within a slot that only allows for the thickness of the belt it’s intended to cut. 

Make sure the Seat Belt Cutters on your list are strong enough to use without breaking; high-strength plastic models are both cost-effective and reliable. You’ll also want cutters that are compact enough to store easily in a glove box or seat pocket, usually under 5 inches, and have rounded safety edges to prevent injuries while in use. 

Conspicuity Tape

High visibility reflective tape -- better known in fleet usage as Conspicuity Tape -- is intended to make a wide range of commercial vehicles more easily seen in low-light, low-visibility situations, including school buses. Conspicuity Tape is not only brighter than standard reflective tape but is also more readily visible at sharper angles.

Every state has requirements for Conspicuity Tape markings on any bus intended to carry children. Unlike federal DOT/FMCSA regulations that cover interstate freight commerce, Conspicuity Tape requirements for school buses are generally regulated by individual states. Specifications are found within the same state regulations that dictate requirements for the rest of the bus, including exits, seats, seatbelts and fire extinguishers. 

In general, school bus Conspicuity Tape treatments generally call for two-inch prismatic reflective striping in “school bus yellow,” down the sides of the vehicle, and a one-inch striping around all exits.  

While Conspicuity Tape isn’t required on vehicles not intended to carry students, strategically placed tape can help keep all your buses more visible when the sun goes down, or when inclement weather limits visibility. 

Vehicle Lighting
Most driving decisions are based upon what drivers see, and in an instant, so it stands to reason improving the ability to see and be seen is key to safety on the road. 

Put in other words, the importance of bright, effective Vehicle Lighting to safe bus operation can’t be understated. From the amber and red of brake lights, tail lights, turn signals, clearance lamps and warning lighting, to high intensity, clear white LED headlamps, to lighting arrays that illuminate the interior, proper lighting is vital. 

Inspect your buses’ Vehicle Lighting systems on a regular basis. If any lenses or reflectors are broken or missing, replace them with the appropriate DOT or state-required solution. Standard replacements will do, but consider high-intensity LED options whenever available, which provide longer-lasting light with more power.  

First Aid Kits
Anyone who owns, operates and manages bus fleets of any kind must be prepared for every possibility on the road, including passenger injuries. You’re obviously not going to be performing emergency surgery, but a well-equipped First Aid Kit can help you treat and stabilize injured passengers -- and keep them more comfortable -- until professional help can arrive.  

When choosing a First Aid Kit for your bus, you’ll want one with enough supplies to provide care for every passenger who needs help, up to the capacity of the bus. Your best value will come from larger refillable kits, which are designed to provide care for 10 to 25 passengers or more per kit. 

Each will contain an assortment of bandages, antiseptic wipes, alcohol prep pads, antibiotic ointment for cleaning wounds and reducing chances of infection, gauze rolls and pads, eye wash, tweezers, burn relief gel, gloves, ice packs, triangular bandages, compresses, tape, pain reliever tablets, first aid guides and other essentials.

Check your kits often, disposing of any products that have exceeded their expiration date and refilling with fresh products. 

Staying Safe on the Road
Keeping your bus fleets running safely and on schedule isn’t impossible, but it does take a solid plan, especially as the effects of COVID-19 continue to evolve. Training your staff for what to keep an eye on and working with a trusted fleet supplier are at the heart of developing a plan that works for you. At Imperial Supplies, we’re more than happy to take our place as your partner in safety and maintenance. We’ve got the answers and equipment you need to help keep you moving forward, under every condition. Contact your Dedicated Account Advisor whenever you need answers to your toughest fleet challenges. It’s like we always say… Your Fleet is Our Focus. 

Other Bus Safety Topics

https://www.apta.com/news-publications/public-transportation-facts/

https://www.asumag.com/facilities-management/transportation-parking/article/20846374/hop-on-the-bus

https://schoolsofthought.blogs.cnn.com/2012/03/20/how-safe-are-school-buses/#:~:text=In%20fact%2C%20the%20NHTSA%20says,passengers%20in%20school%20buses%20annually.

https://www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/school-bus-safety

 

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