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DOT proposes new rules to protect passengers in bus crashes

James Christopher MunleyThe U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) just proposed a new federal safety standard to protect passengers in motorcoaches and other large buses in the event of a rollover crash.

The new standard focuses on improvements to the structural design of large buses to ensure passengers are better protected and that there is ample space around them that remains intact and that the emergency exits remain operable in the event of a rollover.

750 million people travel by motorcoach each year, with 65 percent of travelers being students and senior citizens. A study by the U.S. Department of Transportation that was reported in their Motorcoach Safety Action Plan found that driver fatigue, vehicle rollover, occupant ejection, and operator maintenance issues contribute to the majority of bus crashes, fatalities and injuries.

According to the D.O.T., rollovers were a contributor to 52% of the bus and motorcoach fatalities from 1999 to 2008. Passenger ejection during rollover was a major contributor to the fatality numbers, accounting for nearly half. One of the action items mentioned in the safety report was to evaluate and develop roof crush performance requirements to enhance structural integrity. Another was to develop performance requirements and to assess the safety benefits for stability control systems on motorcoaches to reduce rollover events.

The new safety standard proposed by the NHTSA would establish performance requirements that each new motorcoach and large bus must meet when subjected to a test in which the bus is tipped over from a raised platform onto a hard level service. The new standard would:

• Require space around occupant seating positions to be maintained as a survivable space in the event of a crash;
• Require the seats, overhead luggage racks, and window glazing to remain attached to their mountings; and
• Require emergency exits to remain closed during the rollover test and operable after the test.

The D.O.T. is also planning on finalizing requirements later this year for stability control technologies in motorcoaches and buses, which would prevent rollovers from occurring. In a statement released about the new standards, the NHTSA said that stronger bus structures, combined with seat belt use would help keep passengers secured and protected in the event of a crash.

The Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys encourage you to make safety a top priority when booking your next motorcoach or bus trip by checking the following safety-related items before selecting a carrier:
• Safety performance history
• Safety rating
• Operating authority and insurance requirements
• Consumer complaints

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) also provides a free Saferbus mobile app, which can be downloaded by IPhone and Android users.

If you have been in an accident involving a bus, either as a passenger in a bus or in a vehicle involved in a bus accident, call the personal injury lawyers at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys. The attorneys at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys have extensive experience in bus accident cases, and have successfully fought against some of the largest bus companies in the country. Visit for more information.

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Posted in Car Accidents.


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