NTSB Pushes for Safety Regulations on Motor Coaches

The National Transportation Safety Board met with a Senate panel on March 30 to discuss safety regulations in place for buses and motor coaches, according to the Associated Press. Deborah Hersman, the National Transportation Safety Board Chairman, claims that buses and motor coaches are not up to date on new technology and safety regulations.

Hersman and the NHTSA would like to see modern changes made to the buses to prevent bus crashes and personal injury. Adaptive cruise control (adjusts the vehicles speed to traffic) and electronic stability control (helps prevent rollovers) are some of the regulations that the NHTSA brought up to the Senate panel.

“The technology does exist and it’s important that it be applied to the vehicles most in need of it,” Hersman said.

Ron Medford, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration deputy administrator, says they plan to implement the new technology in due time.

“We are dedicated to getting this done as fast as we can,” Medford says. “But we need to base it on good science and good engineering.”

An increase in news media bus accident coverage has piqued a public interest in the safety regulations lately. The NTSB recommends that the NHTSA require the motor coaches to come fully equipped with enough seat belts for each passenger. They are also recommending the buses be installed with electronic onboard recorders, which would track how many hours a driver has been behind the wheel, as well as stronger roofs on the buses—according to the NTSB, about half of all bus crashes are the result of a rollover. The NTSB would also like to make windows and exits easier to see and more accessible.

The NTSB would like to see any and all reasonable actions taken to curb some of the fatalities that come as a result of a bus crash.

“If the regulatory agency had moved on their rulemakings, or the Congress had required these things to be done, we might have been able to prevent some of these fatalities,” says Hersman.

Ray LaHood, the US Transportation Secretary, released a plan in November of 2009 that addressed many of the concerns raised by the NTSB. So far, the only part of the plan that has been passed into law is a texting ban for the bus drivers. The safety regulation has been a long process that actually got its start as early as 1993. LaHood promised that the department will issue new safety training standard for drivers by the fall of 2011.

The American Bus Association has released estimates that the new safety regulations would cost approximately $89,000 per bus—motor coaches cost approximately $500,000 on average. John Claybrook, former chief of NHTSA, however, claims that the estimate is not accurate and the actual cost will come out to about $.05 per bus ticket.

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