U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA) introduced legislation to improve passenger safety on buses and motorcoaches, which would strengthen the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (U.S. DOT) oversight.
The Bus Uniform Standards and Enhanced Safety (BUSES) Act of 2009 (H. R. 1135) focuses on the key bus safety recommendations issued by the National Transportation Safety Board and requires the U.S. DOT to implement bus safety standards that will improve passenger safety.
“The use of buses and motorcoaches remains a popular way for millions of Americans to travel every day for work and for pleasure,” said Shuster. “It is essential that the traveling public is protected with safety requirements that are based on science rather than government mandate alone.”
Under the bill, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would conduct studies to determine what motorcoach safety requirements should be improved. New safety standards would be based on sound scientific research and crash test data and may include requirements for seat belts, improved window glazing, stronger roof construction, better fire suppression and protection, and improved emergency exits.
Additionally, the bill would improve the oversight of bus companies by subjecting them to increased monitoring by enforcement agencies. H.R. 135 would also focus on improving bus driver training and testing requirements, ensuring drivers are medically fit to drive and that the federal motor vehicle safety inspection requirements are effective.
Similar legislation was originally conceived by the late Congressman Paul Gillmor (R-Ohio) after a bus carrying the Bluffton University baseball team skidded off an overpass in Atlanta, killing seven passengers and injuring 21 others.