While addressing the New Jersey Motorcoach Association on Wednesday, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Acting Chairman Mark V. Rosenker called on the motorcoach industry to voluntarily move toward fleets equipped with lap/shoulder belts.
Rosenker said that while a systematic and multi-dimensional approach to occupant safety is the best way to keep motorcoach operations as safe as possible, since such a system has not been required of new motorcoaches by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, industry leaders should move ahead and voluntarily add restraint systems that are currently available on newly manufactured motorcoaches.
"In your next motorcoach purchase you can do something that Australia has required since 1994," said Rosenker. "It's something that the European Union has required since 1997. It's something the state of Texas will require on all motorcoaches chartered for school trips beginning in 2011. It's something that Greyhound recently announced will be on its newest fleet of motorcoaches, and its something many of your competitors will soon have - lap/shoulder belts."
Rosenker also added that lap/shoulder belts could provide a competitive advantage as passengers become as savvy about the safety advantages of occupant restraint systems on motorcoaches as they have about similar systems in automobiles.
On those occasions when a motorcoach accident does occur, Rosenker called on the executives to view it as an opportunity to find ways to improve the safety of their fleets to bring them "closer to an accident-free environment." He also emphasized how public confidence in the safety of the motorcoach industry is a key to its continued success.