Feds propose new rules to protect bus passengers in rollover crashes

Posted on July 31, 2014

Motorcoach rollover testing image courtesy NHTSA.
Motorcoach rollover testing image courtesy NHTSA.
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposed new rules to protect passengers in large bus crashes by requiring structural improvements to the vehicle's design.

According to The Detroit News, the rules won’t require school buses or urban transit buses to get the upgrades or seek significant retrofitting of existing buses.

RELATED: NHTSA to require seat belts on motorcoaches

"The consequences for passengers in rollover crashes are severe," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "I want passengers to know that when this Department sees opportunities to make their travel safer so that they can more confidently visit their families or get to work, we are going to do just that and we believe this proposal is a step in that direction."

The proposed standard would establish performance requirements that each new motorcoach and large bus must meet when subjected to a dynamic test in which the bus is tipped over from a raised platform onto a hard level surface. The proposed standard would:

  • Require space around occupant seating positions to be maintained to afford occupants a survivable space in a crash;
  • Require the seats, overhead luggage racks, and window glazing to remain attached to their mountings during and after the test; and
  • Require emergency exits to remain closed during the rollover test and operable after the test.

Both the proposed test procedure and performance requirements are closely modeled after the European regulations for large buses. In a separate rulemaking action to improve safety even further, the Department is planning on finalizing requirements later this year for stability control technologies in these vehicles, which would help prevent rollovers from occurring.

"The traveling public deserves safer service and peace of mind when they board a motorcoach or large bus," said NHTSA Acting Administrator David Friedman. "Stronger large bus structures, combined with seat belt use will help keep passengers secured and protected in the event of a crash."

"In addition to taking critical steps to improve the structural design of buses," said FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro, "We are committed to further increasing motorcoach safety through stricter oversight, in-depth investigations into high-risk companies, and by ensuring that drivers are properly licensed and medically fit for the job."

NHTSA's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking can be viewed in the Federal Register and members of the public will have the opportunity to comment on the proposal for 60 days. NHTSA is proposing a compliance date of three years after publication of a final rule. Read the NPRM.

For additional safety information regarding motorcoach travel or to download FMCSA's free SaferBus mobile app, visit the Look Before You Book website. As always, FMCSA urges travelers to report any unsafe bus company, vehicle or driver by calling its toll free hotline 1-888-DOT-SAFT (1-888-368-7238) or online: http://nccdb.fmcsa.dot.gov.

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