The U.S. Department of Transportation has announced plans to require all new motorcoaches and commercial buses to be equipped with seat belts by 2013. While the new rules could reduce the number of fatalities in serious Massachusetts bus accidents, safety advocates contend they do not go far enough to protect bus passengers.
For starters, the new law will not apply to school buses; nor will it apply to the thousands of buses and motorcoaches already on the road. It’s a critical safety issue because riding a bus is a more popular mode of transportation than flying: About 750 million people ride a bus each year.
The government contends that wearing a lap and shoulder belt could reduce fatal accidents in rollover crashes by 77 percent, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
“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.”
The federal government has taken other recent steps to improve passenger safety in commercial buses. Earlier this year, the NHTSA released the Motorcoach Safety Action Plan, which provides steps to address driver fatigue and inattention as well as ways to improve maintenance. Plans to improve motorcoach structure, as well as fire safety protection and emergency egress are also under way.
The government will take comment for the next 60 days. Once enacted, the new rules will apply to buses manufactured after 2013.
If you have been injured in a Massachusetts bus accident, contact Boston Injury Attorney Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call 877-617-5333.