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NHTSA Calls for Higher Standards for Motorcoaches
Long before the first student steps aboard, school buses are tested to assure they meet or exceed strict federal roof-strength standards. Now, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration aims to hold chartered motorcoaches that transport students to similar standards.
The NHTSA recently proposed a new rule to enhance rollover structural integrity of motorcoaches and over-the-road buses to better protect passengers in the event of a crash to improve roof strength. The rule would require all newly manufactured large buses to comply with standards of a roof-crush test that tips vehicles over from an 800 mm raised platform onto a level ground surface. It also would require that new vehicles provide a "sufficient level of survival space" to restrained occupants in rollover crashes; that seats and overhead luggage racks remain secured; that window glazing remains attached to its mounting during and after a rollover crash; and that emergency exits remain closed during the rollover crash and operable after the crash.
Fatal rollover crashes account for an average of just one-third of all fatal crashes involving these bus types. Yet, they represent more than half of all the occupant fatalities. Plus, upward of two-thirds of the rollover crash fatalities result in an occupant being thrown from the vehicle - a factor that can cause devastating injuries, fatal and non-fatal.
Statistics show that from 2000 through 2009, 87 fatal motorcoach crashes claimed the lives of 209 people. Of those fatalities, 32 were a direct result of rollover crashes. These figures equate to an average of 21 fatalities a year in these crashes, compared to an average of six a year in school bus crashes.
We here at Todd E. Copeland & Associates support any legislation that keeps drivers, passengers and pedestrians safe on our nation's roadways. If you suffer an injury while riding or driving a chartered motorcoach or other bus that you believe may fall short of safety standards, get medical treatment. Then, call 407-999-8995 to speak with a vehicle rollover lawyer with Orlando's Todd E. Copeland & Associates.