Buses are a popular way to travel in California, particularly for commuters,
students, community groups, and tourists. However, their sheer size and
lack of safety measures can put passengers at risk for serious injury
or even death. Earlier this year, a California bus accident left ten people
dead, including five high school students.
To help protect passengers in the event of a bus crash, the National Highway
Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently proposed a new regulation
aimed to improve the structural design of large buses. The new motor vehicle
safety standard would specifically address the risk to passengers during
a rollover crash by making sure that the space around them remains sufficiently
intact and the emergency exits remain operable.
According to the NHTSA, new motorcoach and large buses would specifically
be required to satisfy new performance standards, which would involve
a dynamic test in which the bus is tipped over from a raised platform
onto a hard level surface. The
proposed bus safety standard would:
- Require space around occupant seating positions to be maintained to afford
occupants a survivable space in a crash;
- Require the seats, overhead luggage racks, and window glazing to remain
attached to their mountings during and after the test; and
- Require emergency exits to remain closed during the rollover test and operable
after the test.
“Approximately 700 million trips are taken on commercial buses each
year. Raising the standard for a motorcoach’s durability, in the
event of a crash, is critical to saving the lives of the passengers inside,”
said Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator Anne Ferro. “In
addition to taking critical steps to improve the structural design of
buses, we are committed to further increasing motorcoach safety through
stricter oversight, in-depth investigations into high-risk companies,
and by ensuring that drivers are properly licensed and medically fit for
If approved, the new standards would take effect in three years.