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New regulations proposed to protect bus passengers in rollover crashes
The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has 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.”
The 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 and require the seats, overhead luggage racks, and window glazing to remain attached to their mountings during and after the test. Emergency exits would be required to remain closed during the rollover test and operable after the test.
Both the proposed test procedure and performance requirements are closely modeled after 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.
“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 Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration 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.”
The proposal comes after a string of deadly crashes. In Blythe, CA four people were killed when a tour bus slid down an embankment and overturned. Ten people were killed after a bus crash involving a delivery truck in Humboldt, CA. Eight people were killed in an accident in Dandridge, TN when a church bus collided with two other vehicles.
NHTSA’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking can be viewed in the Federal Register; members of the public will have the opportunity to comment on the proposal for 60 days. NHTSA is proposing a compliance date of three years after publication of a final rule.