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DOT proposes new reg to protect bus passengers in rollover crashes

Performance requirements would reduce risk of ejection

motorcoachThe 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.

New vehicles must pass test

The 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.

Modeled after European regs

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.

Stricter oversight

“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.”

NHTSA’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking can be viewed in the Federal Register and 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. Click here to view the NPRM.

For additional safety information regarding motorcoach travel or to download FMCSA’s free SaferBus mobile app, visit the Look Before You Book website.  As always, FMCSA urges travelers to report any unsafe bus company, vehicle or driver by calling its toll free hotline 1-888-DOT-SAFT (1-888-368-7238) or online: http://nccdb.fmcsa.dot.gov.

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