Students represent 25% of all motorcoach passenger trips in North America, according to the Student and Youth Travel Association. Motorcoach travel allows young people to visit historic and cultural sites across the U.S. and Canada at far lower costs than other modes of transit. According to the 2010 Motorcoach Census, 99.5 million passenger trips were provided to student tour groups by the motorcoach industry in the U.S. and Canada. With improved amenities such as private and public motor coach wifi, motorcoach travel is staying competitive. Being connected to the Internet on the go makes travel more fun, entertaining, and engaging for students.

Of course, before a student group leaves on a Motorcoach adventure, significant planning must take place. Where is the group headed? How many students will attend? Where and when will stops occur? And of course, how much will it all cost? Student safety is first and foremost among considerations Today we’re reviewing motorcoach safety issues, and providing tips on how to keep Motorcoach travel safe for students.

Including Safety in Trip Planning

When considering which motorcoach company to choose, keep in mind that they can vary greatly in quality and pricing. Unfortunately there is not a hard and fast rule, such as the age of the vehicle. Ultimately, safety isn’t free. Operators that are safety-conscious invest a lot of time, energy, and funds in maintenance to ensure that every possible issue be discovered and resolved before hitting the road. Regular maintenance must be conducted, and thorough safety checks must be carried out before each trip. Drivers are trained to meticulously inspect the vehicle each day it is on the road. If a motorcoach company skimps on maintenance or repairs, the chance that the coach will break down or become otherwise unsafe is greatly increased. Therefore, when planning a student motorcoach trip, it’s key to check into the safety practices of each prospective travel company. Your vetting process should include looking up motorcoach agencies’ USDOT identification numbers and searching for safety records online using these ID numbers.

Another safety issue to consider is that your itinerary matches up with the driver’s limits. As a general rule, motorcoach drivers are expected to drive up to 500 miles in one workday. In total, the drivers needs time prepping the vehicle for departure, two hours each day for meals, and two hours at the destination for dropping off passengers and securing the vehicle. If a driver is asked to spend more than 10 hours per day driving, there are a multitude of potential safety concerns. There are stringent laws barring this as a result.

Violations of these driving limitations can result in $10,000 fines for the driver and the motorcoach company. Make sure to work your selected motorcoach company to tailor your itinerary to meet the needs of your group as well as the highest safety standards of the motorcoach industry. You can start your search for a reputable company on the United Motorcoach Association (UMA) or American Bus Associations (ABA) websites.

Looking Forward: Planning with Your Students In Mind.

When traveling with student groups it is important to set expectations and have activities available. Prep your students ahead of time and again once on board the vehicle for the rules they are expected to follow as a motorcoach passenger. Within the United Motorcoach Association’s Student Motorcoach Travel Safety Guide you can find a list of Rules for Schools during motorcoach travel. This handy list can be presented to students as behavioral expectations.

On a lighter note, make good use of newly available WiFi for motorcoach travel industries, if available on your chosen carrier. As your group visits historical or cultural sites, you can assign on-the-go research assignments for students to conduct while traveling. The sky is the limit with private motorcoach WiFi. With WiFi access, students can keep in touch with family and friends, play games as a group, entertain themselves, and research important educational topics. Happy Trails!

[Photo by ToGa Wanderings via CC License]