If you’re planning a summer trip, which many people are, since most COVID restrictions have been removed around the world, you might also be planning on taking a tour bus for part of your travels.
Tour buses are a popular way to see the sites in the United States and abroad in places like Europe.
However, you hear the occasional horror story about tour bus accidents, and sometimes they include other big vehicles like trucks. Large vehicles and trucks are dangerous on the roadways simply because of how heavy they are.
At the same time, they can also be safer for passengers than small cars. The following are things to know about tour buses, also called coach buses, and how safe they are.
What’s a Coach Bus?
A coach bus is also called a motor coach or charter bus. Unlike a normal bus, a coach is used for private transportation and long-distance travel. Coach buses provide comfort when you’re going long distances. These forms of private transportation are typically used by tour and trip organizers.
A coach will have a raised floor, so there’s space below it for storing luggage, making it taller than your typical passenger bus. Inside the coach, there’s a raised view of the street because it’s like being on a platform.
These buses often have a lot of amenities like WiFi, reclining seats, dropdown TVs, and USB and electrical outlets. They might also have reading lights and controls where you can manage your own temperature at your seat.
Are These Buses Safe?
The reason accidents involving a coach or tour buses might stand out in your mind is because they’re actually so infrequent that when they do happen, it becomes a big story.
Some of the reasons coach buses are considered one of the safest ways to travel include:
- The drivers are trained and certified. Nearly anyone can drive a car, despite how risky it is. A coach bus driver is specifically trained, however. Every hour that one of these drivers is on the road is an hour of experience they have. Bus drivers learn to constantly scan their surroundings, check and then recheck their mirrors, and be highly aware of what’s around them at all times.
- To become a professional coach driver, a person needs a commercial driver’s license. The operator also has to meet a certain set of quality standards, and they have to undergo testing to assess their ability.
- If the bus does encounter a tough situation like rough roadways or bad weather, they also have training and experience to deal with these situations.
- Coach busses are designed with the utmost safety. The design and construction of a coach bus protect the riders. Since they are so big, other vehicles will often defer to them on the roadways. The side of a bus is reinforced to withstand collisions. Even if there’s an accident, the walls of a coach bus often stay rigid.
- The big weight and size of a coach bus mean they’ve very visible on roadways, unlike something such as a motorcycle.
- Coach buses are built on a steel chassis, and that allows them to absorb more shock. Plus, the bus will also have a low center of gravity, helping with stability and turning.
- After every trip, a professional inspects a coach bus to make sure there’s no damage. When a company has a fleet of buses, regularly inspecting them and keeping them well-maintained is important.
What to Ask a Tour Bus Company
While the vehicles and companies are closely regulated, you still want to ensure your safety when you book a trip.
Before you take a tour bus trip, talk to the bus company to make sure it complies with all legal requirements. This is especially important in a foreign country. You should ask them what their insurance coverage is like if there is an accident and how they service and maintain their fleet.
You’ll also want to ask about the drivers and what training and licensing the company requires them to have. Ask about the drivers’ records, and if you find out who your specific driver is going to be, you should get that information about them. If the company doesn’t want to provide information like this, it might be best to look for another one.
Overall, a coach bus is a very safe way to travel, but you should still do your due diligence before planning a trip.
If you feel like anything is “off” with the company or driver, listen to your instincts.