NHTSA proposes new bus safety regulations

August 5, 2014 12:00 AM

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has started to analyze the safety of coach buses and recently proposed new regulations. The proposal would create new standards that coach and passenger buses would have to comply with, and the main goal of these revisions is to protect passengers in the case of rollover crashes.

The NHTSA issued a press release explaining the safety measures that have been suggested.

New proposed standards
Under the new standards, buses would have to comply with several changes related to passenger safety. These new standards include:

  • The space surrounding a passenger would have to help the passenger to survive a crash, especially a rollover.
  • All items within the bus, including the seats, luggage racks and windows, must be able to withstand a crash without becoming detached from the bus.
  • Emergency exits must remain secure during a crash test and be able to offer passengers an escape from the vehicle, remaining operable after a crash.

Buses will have to meet these standards and then go through tests to ensure they can withstand a rollover. The testing will involve the buses being tipped over onto a hard surface. After the buses have been rolled, testers would then examine the outcome of the impacts.

These proposed standards are based on the safety standards currently being used in Europe.

"The consequences for passengers in rollover crashes are severe," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "I want passengers to know that when this department sees opportunities to make their travel safer so that they can more confidently visit their families or get to work, we are going to do just that, and we believe this proposal is a step in that direction."

Incurred costs
While these new safety standards will help make travel safer, they will cost businesses money. Autoevolution reported that the manufacturer costs for safer buses would be at least $5 million a year. Buses already in service will have to receive a tune up to ensure they comply with the new standards.

Real risks
The NHTSA's new proposal comes on the heels of a recent bus crash in July. On July 18, a Canadian tour bus rolled over near exit 29 on the Adirondack Northway, Interstate 87, in North Hudson, New York, Lake Placid News reported. There were several injuries along with one fatality. A Canadian teen traveling with her mother was killed.

Unfortunately, this was not an isolated event for this road. The news organization also reported on several similar accidents to happen on Interstate 87. Their report included a 2006 Greyhound bus crash that killed five people and another crash in 2004 involving a Canadian charter bus that struck a tractor-trailer, which resulted in 50 people being injured.

These are just a few examples of bus accidents that have happened in one area, but the problem stretches across the country. These incidents are the exact type of situation that the NHTSA hopes prevent with its new safety proposals.

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