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New Federal Regulation Will Require Some Buses to Have Seatbelts

The National Highway and Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently announced that new commercial buses would be required to have seat belts starting in 2016. The new rule does not apply to school buses or public transit buses.

As San Diego injury lawyers, we are pleased that the federal government has finally approved this important safety measure, which is long overdue. The National Transportation Safety Board first recommended large buses be equipped with seatbelts more than 50 years ago after a serious California bus crash in the Mojave Desert.

Since then, hundreds more have died. On average, 21 motorcoach and large bus passengers are killed in traffic accidents every year, while almost 8,000 are injured, according to NHTSA data.

“While travel on motorcoaches is overall a safe form of transportation when accidents do occur, there is the potential for a greater number of deaths and serious injuries due to the number of occupants and high speeds at which the vehicles are traveling,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland.

The agency predicts that the new law could reduce fatalities by up to 44 percent and reduce the number of moderate to severe injuries by up to 45 percent. Additional regulations to protect passengers in the event of a rollover crash are expected next year. They would require reinforced roofs and windows designed to prevent passengers from being ejected.