NHTSA Mandates Seat Belts on Motorcoaches and Large Buses

Every year in the United States, an average of twenty one motorcoach and large bus occupants are killed, and another 8,000 injured, on our roadways.   Nearly half of those fatalities are from rollovers and seventy percent involve accident victims that were ejected from the bus. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) finally announced its final rule requiring seat belts installed on Motorcoaches this past Wednesday. Federal accident investigators first recommended such a measure back on 1968, after a crash in California that claimed nineteen lives. Europe has required seat belts on motorcoaches since the 1990’s.

The final rule applies to new over-the-road buses with a gross vehicle weight over 26,000 pounds. Newly manufactured buses will be required to be equipped with lap and shoulder belts for each seat beginning in November of 2016. The rule only applies to new buses. Older buses will not be required to go through costly retrofitting. Transit and school buses are not included in the rule and are governed by their own regulations. Some companies have already voluntarily begun to comply.

The NHTSA hopes that the rule will reduce fatalities by up to forty-four percent and reduce injuries by as much as forty-five percent based on available statistical analysis.