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Gov’t Proposes Seat Belts In All Motorcoaches

August 17, 2010

The US government announced Monday a proposal for new commercial buses to be equipped with seat belts in order to help reduce the risk of death and injuries of passengers in accidents.

Transit buses and other locally run bus systems would not be covered by the proposal.

According to Reuters, bus manufacturers would be given three years to comply with the new rules. Buses already in circulation would be exempt from the proposal. The government said it would not be economically feasible for most companies to retrofit their buses with seatbelts.

The proposal has been set up for a 90-day period for public comment before the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) decides whether to make the proposal a regulation or not.

Between 1999 and 2008, more than 180 people were killed in 54 accidents involving motor coaches, according to government figures. Most bus crashes do not involve other vehicles and can result in rollover, according to the NHTSA.

Three out of four passengers killed in the bus crashes were ejected from their seats. Most commercial buses are not equipped with passenger safety belts. The proposal would require all newly-built commercial motor coaches to have passenger safety belts.

Charter companies represent nearly half of all miles traveled by the some 30,000 buses on the road. Children, mainly on school and other organized trips, and the elderly comprise about two thirds of motor coach passengers.

It would cost bus manufacturers in the neighborhood of $25 million to equip the 2,000 buses manufactured each year with seat belts, NHTSA said.

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