Proposal would require seatbelts on new motorcoaches

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The U.S. Department of Transportation on Monday, Aug. 16, announced a proposal to require new motorcoaches to have lap-shoulder seatbelts to help prevent driver and passenger ejections during a collision. The proposed rule will take effect three years after the final rule is issued.

“We’re committed to making sure that motorcoach travelers reach their destinations safely,” says U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Seatbelts save lives, and putting them in motorcoaches just makes sense.”

U.S. motorcoach travel carries 750 million passengers annually, while 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. “We want motorcoaches to be as safe as possible and are working towards that goal,” says NHTSA Administrator David Strickland.

Monday’s announcement is DOT’s latest initiative to improve motorcoach safety. 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.

NHTSA is seeking comment on the proposal for the next 90 days. To view the proposal, go to www.nhtsa.gov/staticfiles/rulemaking/pdf/NPRM_Belts_on_motorcoaches.pdf.