The US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a final rule requiring lap and shoulder seat belts for each passenger and driver seat on new motorcoaches and other large buses. NHTSA said this new rule enhances the safety of these vehicles by significantly reducing the risk of fatalities and serious injuries in frontal crashes and the risk of occupant ejection in rollovers.
On average, 21 motorcoach and large bus occupants are killed and 7,934 are injured annually in motor vehicle crashes, according to NHTSA data. Requiring seat belts could reduce fatalities by up to 44% and reduce the number of moderate to severe injuries by up to 45%.
The final rule, which amends Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 208, applies to new over-the-road buses and to other types of new buses with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) greater than 11,793 kilograms (26,000 pounds), except transit buses and school buses. This final rule fulfills a mandate from the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). Beginning in November 2016, newly manufactured buses will be required to be equipped with lap and shoulder belts for each driver and passenger seat.
Several companies have already begun voluntarily purchasing buses that include seat belts and the Department will continue encouraging the industry to speed the adoption of lap and shoulder seat belts prior to the mandatory deadline. In addition, the Department will continue moving forward with other initiatives to improve motorcoach safety as outlined in the Motorcoach Safety Action Plan.