By Debbie Hersman
Although motorcoach travel is extremely safe and crashes are rare, when they do occur, many people may be injured or even killed, especially if they are ejected from the bus. According to NHTSA, 45% of fatalities in motorcoaches result from passengers being ejected from the bus during a crash. Seat belts are a simple and easy way to safely keep people in the bus.
The National Transportation Safety Board first called for seat belts to be installed on motorcoaches over four decades ago. Over the last 45 years, we investigated accident after accident where improved occupant protection could have prevented fatalities and injuries; so we reiterated our recommendation, testified before Congress, and advocated for voluntary safety improvements within the industry. Last week, NHTSA announced a long-awaited final rule requiring seat belts on motorcoaches. We are encouraged that NHTSA included many large buses that previously were not required to have any protection for passengers.
NHTSA’s final rule requires adjustable seats belts for all passenger seats on new motorcoaches starting in 2016. While implementation of the rule is still three years away, we know that many manufacturers, including MCI, Prevost, Setra, and Van Hool, have already voluntarily installed seat belts and other critical safety features in their buses. As a result, you may soon travel on a large bus that has lap and shoulder belts at all passenger seats. Ask for buses with seat belts. Look for the belts on buses and wear the belts properly during the entire trip. It just may save your life.