A proposal that would require new motorcoaches to have lap-shoulder belts to help prevent driver and passenger ejections during a collision has been proposed by U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Ray LaHood. The proposed rule will take effect three years after the final rule is issued, the DOT said.
“We’re committed to making sure that motorcoach travelers reach their destinations safely,” said Secretary LaHood. “Seat belts save lives, and putting them in motorcoaches just makes sense.”
While motorcoach travel is a very safe mode of highway transportation in the U.S., carrying 750 million passengers annually, an average of 19 motorcoach occupants are killed each year on U.S. roadways. Wearing lap-shoulder belts on motorcoaches could reduce the risk for passengers of being killed in a rollover crash by 77 percent, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA.)
“We want motorcoaches to be as safe as possible and are working towards that goal,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. “In coordination with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, we will continue moving forward in our mission to save lives and reduce injuries.”
The announcement is one of several DOT initiatives to improve motorcoach safety, the DOT says. Earlier this year, the department released a Motorcoach Safety Action Plan offering concrete steps for addressing driver fatigue or inattention and improving operator maintenance. Research for improving motorcoach structure, fire safety protection and emergency egress is also under way, which could lead to recommendations for new federal standards in the future, the DOT said.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is seeking public comment on the proposal for the next 90 days.