After a rash of bus accidents, the U.S. DOT has taken a closer look at the safety of passengers on the nation's fleet of busses and coaches.
The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently proposed a new federal motor vehicle safety standard to protect motorcoach and other large bus passengers in rollover crashes. The proposal aims to improve the structural design of large buses to ensure that passengers are better protected in a deadly vehicle rollover by ensuring that the space around them remains sufficiently intact and the emergency exits remain operable.
“The consequences for passengers in rollover crashes are severe,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “I want passengers to know that when this Department sees opportunities to make their travel safer so that they can more confidently visit their families or get to work, we are going to do just that and we believe this proposal is a step in that direction.”
Today’s proposed standard would establish performance requirements that each new motorcoach and large bus must meet when subjected to a dynamic test in which the bus is tipped over from a raised platform onto a hard level surface. The proposed standard would:
- Require space around occupant seating positions to be maintained to afford occupants a survivable space in a crash;
- Require the seats, overhead luggage racks, and window glazing to remain attached to their mountings during and after the test; and
- Require emergency exits to remain closed during the rollover test and operable after the test.
Both the proposed test procedure and performance requirements are closely modeled after the European regulations for large buses. In a separate rulemaking action to improve safety even further, the Department is planning on finalizing requirements later this year for stability control technologies in these vehicles, which would help prevent rollovers from occurring.
“The traveling public deserves safer service and peace of mind when they board a motorcoach or large bus,” said NHTSA Acting Administrator David Friedman. “Stronger large bus structures, combined with seat belt use will help keep passengers secured and protected in the event of a crash.”
“Approximately 700 million trips are taken on commercial buses each year. Raising the standard for a motorcoach’s durability, in the event of a crash, is critical to saving the lives of the passengers inside,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro. “In addition to taking critical steps to improve the structural design of buses, we are committed to further increasing motorcoach safety through stricter oversight, in-depth investigations into high-risk companies, and by ensuring that drivers are properly licensed and medically fit for the job.”