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How can you stay safe when using public transportation?

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Public transportation is a huge benefit to cities, towns and villages. The ability to get from one place to another without your own vehicle saves you money that would otherwise be spent on fuel, repairs and insurance. There is some trouble with choosing public transportation, however. The primary concern is safety. Do you know anything about the driver? How do you know that the company took its time choosing its drivers and making sure they would keep passengers safe?

Without knowing anything about the company's hiring practices, you are blinding putting yourself in the driver's hands.

What should you do to stay safe?

The first thing you may wish to do is research the company you intend to use and check its safety record online. What kind of safety policies does it use for its drivers. Does it make driver work to the federal maximum? Does it enforce rules about sleeping a certain number of hours between shifts? Does it let drivers work when ill or tired? These questions can help you decide if the transportation company you want to take is safe.

However, while you can review statistics about drivers and hiring requirements, many drivers, like for taxis, are freelancers or independent contractors. These individuals purchase their taxis and are in control of their own schedules. Information about their safety records may not be available.

Why do bus or public transportation accidents happen?

The primary cause of crashes relates to driver errors. Many work the maximum allowed hours and drive when drowsy. Without enough breaks for food or sleep, drivers may become too tired to make decisions about driving safely.

Speak up if you notice a driver acting unusual during the drive. It's better to get off the bus or to make the driver stop than to continue and put yourself -- and other with you -- at risk.

Another reason accidents happen is because a driver isn't educated in safe driving practices. You could learn about the company's requirements for training before deciding if you want to ride with it. Drivers who have been behind the wheel longer have a better chance of getting you from point A to B safely.

Public transportation can put you in harm's way, but with research, you'll be in a better position to choose only the safest carriers for yourself and your family.

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