We all know that seatbelts save lives and now a new government proposal is looking to expand this important safety feature into large, long-distance passenger buses, also known as motorcoaches. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced a proposed rule that would require all new motorcoaches to have lap and shoulder belts to help prevent the driver and passengers from being ejected in the event of a crash.
Motorcoaches are a popular and relatively safe mode of transportation. They carry 750 million passengers each year and account for an average of 19 annual occupant deaths. Lap shoulder belts could reduce the risk of death from a rollover by 77 percent, according to NHTSA.
NHTSA is currently seeking public comment on the proposal until October 18, 2010 on www.regulations.gov. Once the final rule is issued, the changes will take effect three years later. More on the rule can be found here.
Earlier this year, the Department of Transportation announced a plan of action to improve the safety of motorcoaches by addressing the causes of crashes such as driver fatigue, driver behavior (driver distraction), vehicle maintenance, crash avoidance, and occupant protection. A proposal banning texting while operating a motorcoach is currently in the works. Expect more rules and other initiatives to be announced in the future in the effort to help ensure continued improvements to the safety of motorcoach drivers and passengers.—Liza Barth