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How do I know if my bus company is safe?

Bus travel is very affordable, comfortable and convenient, but it can also be dangerous if the bus company doesn't adhere to safety standards. As such, California bus passengers should always place an emphasis on safety when selecting a bus company. Indeed, cost and convenience are important considerations but they shouldn't take center stage if a cheaper bus line could jeopardize your safety.

Here are a few things that bus passengers should look out for and avoid when selecting a bus line:

-- Poorly maintained buses that do not have required safety equipment. This increases the chance of a crash and/or breakdown.

-- Bus companies that do not comply with federal safety standards. Some companies don't employ qualified and licensed commercial drivers, and some don't follow Hours of Service regulations that mandate rest for drivers to avoid fatigue.

-- Bus companies that do not maintain their registrations that authorize interstate commercial operations.

Safety ratings are also important to check before buying a bus ticket. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration publishes assessments and ratings of bus companies awarding the "satisfactory" rating as the highest in safety. "Conditional" is the second highest rating, and it indicates that a bus company has violations on record but is still permitted to operate. "Unsatisfactory" indicates that the bus company is no longer permitted to operate.

In the event of a bus crash, injured parties may be able to seek financial restitution from the bus company and/or other at-fault parties. In reviewing the viability of such a personal injury claim, attorneys will also look at evidence pertaining to the above safety ratings and registration statuses of the bus company in question.

Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, "Look Before You Book," accessed Sep. 23, 2016

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