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DOT's 2009 Bus Safety Action Plan Urges Seat Belts

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By Minara El-Rahman on November 20, 2009 12:50 PM

The United States Dept. of Transportation has released its Motorcoach Safety Action Plan last Monday. This comes at the heels of an investigation into a fatal crash in Texas and another crash this week in Minnesota. The fatal bus crash in Texas occurred in the summer of 2008 because of a tire puncture. We covered both crashes on the Injured blog here and here.

Many would be surprised to know that currently, buses are not required to have seat belts installed.

The bus safety action plan proposes the installation of seat belts on all buses. This is important because DOT's 2009 action plan outlines how data shows that passengers being ejected from their seats due to a rollover crash causes the greatest number of deaths: "[D]ata indicates that ejection due to a rollover crash causes the highest percentage of motorcoach passenger fatalities. NHTSA determined that installing seat belts would be the most direct method of retaining passengers within the seating compartment and preventing ejection."

The action plan put forth by the DOT strives to prevent fatalities like this from happening. The DOT expects that this action plan will result in a reduction in the number of bus crashes as well as a reduction in the number of fatalities and injuries.

Some of the other priority actions set forth in the plan are:

  • Initiate rulemaking to require electronic on-board recording
    devices on all motorcoaches to better monitor drivers' duty hours and manage fatigue.
  • Initiate rulemaking to propose prohibiting texting and limiting
    the use of cellular telephones and other devices by motorcoach
    drivers.
  • Initiate rulemaking to require the installation of seat belts on
    motorcoaches to improve occupant protection.
  • Evaluate and develop roof crush performance requirements to
    enhance structural integrity.
  • Develop performance requirements and assess the safety benefits for stability control systems on motorcoaches to reduce rollover
    events.
  • Enhance oversight of carriers attempting to evade sanctions and
    of other unsafe motorcoach companies.
  • Establish minimum knowledge requirements for people applying
    for authority to transport passengers.

If you would like to learn more about this new 2009 Bus Safety Action Plan please visit our Related Resources links.

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