New tour buses and buses that provide service between cities must be equipped with seat belts starting in late 2016 under a federal rule issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on Nov. 21. This is a safety measure that was sought by accident investigators for nearly a half century. Beginning in November 2016, all new motorcoaches and some other large buses must be equipped by manufacturers with three-point lap-shoulder belts. Unfortunately, the rule doesn’t apply to school buses or city transit buses.
An average of 21 people in large buses is killed each year in crashes, and nearly 8,000 others are injured annually, according to NHTSA. It’s estimated that seat belts could reduce fatalities and moderate-to-severe injuries by nearly half. About half of all motorcoach fatalities are the result of rollovers, and about 70 percent of those killed in rollover accidents were ejected from the bus. David Strickland, head of NHTSA:
Adding seatbelts to motorcoaches increases safety for all passengers and drivers, especially in the event of a rollover crash.
The nation’s fleet of 29,000 motorcoaches transports about 700 million passengers a year in the United States, roughly equivalent to the domestic airline industry, according to the United Motorcoach Association. Since buses are typically on the road for about 20 to 25 years, it will likely be many years before most motorcoaches have seat belts.
Source: Claims Journal
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