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Introduction .................................... 1 Problem Statement .......................... 2 - 4 Existing Solutions ............................ 5 - 6 Our Solution .................................... 6 - 10 Target Users ........................... 7 - 8 Considerations ........................ 8 User Tasks .............................. 9 Issues and Scope ..................... 9 - 11 Conclusion ...................................... 11 Sources .......................................... 12

Motorcoach travel is an extremely safe form of transportation, with a ten-year average of only 19 motorcoach occupant fatalities each year. Nevertheless, the U.S. Department of Transportation views the transportation of passengers to be its the highest safety priority.1 The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) establishes the minimum safety standards that must be followed by any motorcoach company, but that does not mean that all motorcoach carriers are the same or that they offer the same quality of service. As of 2010, there were 4,088 motorcoach carriers in the U.S. alone. The number of U.S. motorcoaches on our nation’s roads totaled 39,324. 2 Individuals and group-trip organizers have several options to consider when choosing a carrier and need to make informed decisions.

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What is the Problem? With the deluge of safety information available, the data is often difficult to interpret, which can lead people to make an uninformed and potentially dangerous decision based solely on price. This seemingly innocent decision can have devastating consequences.

As a result, the issue of motorcoach safety should be taken seriously. Additionally, most motorcoach accidents result from driverrelated issues. The chart in figure 2 on the next page shows that over 50% of crashes involving motorcoaches are the product of bus driver-related issues.

Figure 1 shows the number of motorcoach passenger and driver Figure 1: Motorcoach Driver and Passenger Fatalities fatalities in the years The data suggests that between 1991 and any solution that 2008.3 Though traveling addresses the problems via bus is one of the safest forms of travel, the risk of surrounding motorcoach safety and awareness should death remains fairly consistent and has even seen some look to the FMCSA’s Compliance Safety and Accountability increase in recent years. initiative (CSA). Steelbeam Software, Inc.


Recognition, Not Driver Fault 19%

Driver Fatigue 37%

Vehicle Condition 13%

This new system provides a useful benchmark upon which to rate a motorcoach carrier. A carrier’s performance in each of the BASICs is extremely useful in deciding whether or not to choose to do business with the company. However, currently these statistics are not easily accessible to passengers/customers and therefore, are not being used to their full potential.

Road Conditions 6% Other 6% Inattention 13%

Medical Condition of Bus Driver 6%


Figure 1: Cause of Investigated Motorcoach Crashes Driver-related causes emphasized

CSA was released in December of 2010 and it introduced its new three-part Operational Model, pictured in figure 4.4 The “Safety Measurement System” (SMS) defines the CSA Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs), as seen in figure 3. SMS uses a motorcoach carrier’s data from roadside inspections, State-reported crashes, and the Federal motor carrier census to quantify the seven BASICs.

• • • • • • •

Unsafe Driving Fatigued Driving Driver Fitness Controlled Substances/Alcohol Vehicle Maintenance Cargo Related Crash Indicator

Figure 3: CSA Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs)

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Figure 4: FMCSA’s Compliance Safety and Accountability (CSA) Operational Model

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Existing Solutions Though this mobile/web app is functional, it is somewhat difficult for an average user to understand how to interpret the data. The app uses the official SMS rating system, which is helpful to motor-coach companies; however, for the everyday user, needs a bit more explanation.

There are a few existing solutions that are meant to inform customers of motorcoach safety. One such solution is SaferBus (pictured in figure 5), an iOS application that uses information from the FMCSA’s database to deliver statistics to the user about their company of choice. Users are allowed to enter the motorcoach carrier’s name, DOT number, or MC number to find that company’s information. They can search for BASIC information through 5 different icons, each representing one of the following: Unsafe Driving, Fatigued Driving, Driver Fitness, Controlled Substances/Alcohol, and Vehicle Maintenance. 5

Typically, when user thinks of a percentile ranking, the higher the number, the better. Unfortunately, the SaferBus app reverses this convention.

Figure 5: FMSCAʼs SaferBus iOS application

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The app explains each symbol at length and offers an extremely detailed explanation of how the percentile system works. Though this does help to address these difficulties, it requires extra reading and effort that the user should not have to experience.


Figure 6 (left): The SaferBus app’s FAQ section is long and is essentially a requirement to the use of this often confusing app.

According to studies, for the average user, sustained attention lasts between seven and ten minutes assuming the user has an interest in the subject to begin with.6 Furthermore, the brain can only process a small amount of information.7 Also, from a general interface perspective, the app requires the user to click on each of the icons to see the motorcoach carrier’s score for the associated BASIC. As a result, user access to the information is obscured. This too contributes to a less desirable user experience.

Our Solution Despite it’s shortcomings, the SaferBus application offers a strong foundation on which to build a better, more intuitive and user-friendly, solution. The remaining content of this report outlines the target users of our solution as well as the significant issues, constraints, and considerations we must consider.

Figure 7 (right): The icons used by the SaferBus app are not self-explanatory and require further investigation by the user.

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Others 51.7%

Target Users The target users of our proposed solution will be the passengers of motorcoaches, as well as those with the administrative duty of booking a bus charter for a large organization. In order to determine the characteristics of our target grouping, census statistical data was used to narrow the overall scope of the solution, yet reach the largest number of frequent motorcoach users as possible.

Figure 9: Motorcoach Passenger 9 Trips by Type of Passenger

Students 25.0%

Seniors 23.3% Up to $19,000

Figure 8: Location of Bus Transit Use

100% 80% 60% 40% 20% 0%




$20,000 - $29,000


$30,000 - $39,999


$40,000 - $49,999


$50,000 - $59,999


$60,000 - $69,999

1.7% 0.0% Not in an Urban Area


Surrounded by Urban Areas In Urban Area

In Urban Cluster


$70,000 - 99,999


Over $100,000







Figure 10: Motorcoach Ridership by Income10

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Based on the the data displayed in figures 8 - 10, we have concluded that our target users will include lowincome (up $19,999) individuals, males and females living in urban geographical locations, students and seniors, and organizational administration/trip planners.

Considerations There are several things to consider when targeting a solution to these demographics. • Income plays a significant role when considering whether a person will have access to the internet. According to the U.S. Census, among households making less than $25,000 a year, which includes one of our target user groups, only about 30% have internet access in the home. 11 • Age is also a factor in determining access to the internet. Only about 34% of individuals above the age of 65 have access to the internet at home.

• On the other hand, students are are an extremely technologically savvy group. A solution therefore must be extremely intuitive and easy to use, without seeming elementary to target users with a high level of familiarity with technological solutions. • Individuals using our solution on behalf of a larger organization or group must also be considered. Though they will most often have access to the internet and have at least basic familiarity with internet usage, they Only 34% of do have different goals in individuals over the mind. Safety issues may age of 65 have not necessarily affect internet access in them, but they will the home. certainly affect the members of their organization. Nevertheless, while this target group will have different motives to use our solution, their safety inquiries will be nearly identical.

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User Tasks Our solution will offer the following tasks to our target users. • Search for a motorcoach carrier using carrier name, location, or keyword. • View safety details associated with each carrier.

• This will consist of the motorcoach company name, address, individual “scores” from the five BASICS categories implemented by the DOT, as well as the overall “raw” score that synthesizes the category data into a more user-friendly rating that can be understood by our target audience

• View individual passenger safety reviews for each carrier when available.

• Studies show that anecdotes are more persuasive than data.12 We plan to offer anything that will help our target users make better decisions regarding their safety.

• Find out more information about our solution as well as important safety related information regarding our nation’s motorcoaches. • Navigate to a motorcoach carrier’s website in order to find out more information about the carrier or to proceed in booking a trip or chartering a bus.

Issues and Scope

As mentioned earlier in this report, a majority of fatal motorcoach accidents are caused by driver-related issues. Based on this data, our initial approach was to make safety data for individual drivers available in our solution. We reasoned that if motorcoach passengers could view such data, drivers would be motivated to improve their safety compliance and make better driving decisions. After viewing the data that is available, however, we decided that the inclusion of driver-based information is beyond the scope of this project. The data provided by the FMCSA is based on carrier data only.

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Although we did find the National Driver Register13 , which provides information about high-risk drivers, we determined that attempting to present this data in a meaningful and accessible way would prove to be more detrimental than beneficial to the overall quality of the solution and its ease of use. The scope of the project affected other areas of our original plan as well. In our current plan, the main target users are motorcoach passengers initially, however, we wanted to include a much larger set of users. We had planned on developing a solution that includes tasks for motorcoach drivers, motorcoach carrier administration, and commercial vehicle insurance companies. We believed that by including these groups in our solution, we could address the problem from multiple angles. Though this idea makes sense in theory, after further discussion, we began to recognize some of the challenges associated with such a large group of target users.

For one, we would have to include several different modalities in our solution, each tailored to a different user. Additionally, testing of our solution would be extremely difficult as motorcoach carrier administrators and Insurance companies in particular could prove to be a difficult population to reach for study. Based on these challenges, we decided to narrow the range of our target users to what is seen in this report. Another consideration that had to be made is the stipulation that solutions “may not rank motorcoach companies using any number, letter, color or icon system.� 14 We determined that, while we are not able to make judgments on the data provided, we can use this data to develop a score for each carrier. We reasoned that this score will be based on a simple average of the 5 BASICs categories, and that we will not use our score to make recommendations about carriers. We will not rank any company, we will just make each company’s safety data more easy to understand.

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Finally, we have to consider the financial cost of the solution. Though the solution will not require funding for development, it may be necessary to provide maintenance and/or user support. We propose selling advertising space in the final solution to offset the cost of such services. The main limitation of this approach is that we should avoid selling advertisement space to motorcoach carriers or any related companies, as this would qualify as a conflict of interest.

done through charter15 , so we have also decided to target administrative individuals of organizations looking to book a bus trip. Ultimately, we believe that by targeting these groups, we can have an impact on the BASICs of motorcoach safety. By making important safety information accessible to our target users, we can encourage motorcoach carriers to utilize more strict hiring practices as well as to perform better checks of current drivers, which will ultimately lead to better and safer driving performance by individual drivers. This is a solvable problem, given the right solution.

Conclusions Motorcoaches are a highly utilized form of public transportation and are an important service to our nation’s population. As we’ve examined there are several major demographics that make up the majority of motorcoach travelers: lower income individuals, those living in urban geographical locations, students, and seniors. Additionally, a bulk of the motorcoach travel is

We look forward to making our nation’s motorcoaches safer!

Steelbeam Software, Inc.


Sources 1

! 2


US DOT Motorcoach Safety Action Plan, November 2009, page 3, Motorcoach Census 2011, American Bus Association, page 5,


US DOT Motorcoach Safety Action Plan, page 11


“How Does CSA Work,”


“A & I Online: Safety Measurement System,” FMSCAʼs Analysis and Information Online,


100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People, page 103


ibid, page 62


Status of the Nations Highways, Bridges, and Transit, US Dept of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, April 2011, n.p.

! 9

Motorcoach Census 2011, page 10


Status of the Nations Highways, Bridges, and Transit, n.p.


Computer and Internet Use in the United States: 2003, U.S. Census Bureau, page 2,


100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People, page 168


National Driver Register, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,


“Motorcoach Safety Data Student Challenge,” US Department of Transportation,>


Motorcoach Census 2011, page 11

S t e e l b e a m S o f t w a r e , I n c .* * Note: This is merely a satirical team name, we have not actually completed the incorporation process.

Milestone 1  

Steelbeam Software Inc. Milestone 1 Motorcoach Safety Solutions

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