In an attempt to improve safety on the roads, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently proposed structural design changes to improve the safety of buses. The modifications are meant to increase passenger protection in the event of a rollover accident by ensuring that the space around passengers remains sufficiently intact and the emergency exits remain functional.
The NHTSA revealed that on average, 21 fatalities occur each year from large bus accidents and nearly 8,000 large bus passengers are injured. Their data suggests that roughly half of all bus fatalities are the result of rollovers, and about 70 percent of individuals killed in rollover accidents were ejected from the bus during the accident. As a result, last year the administration pushed to incorporate seatbelts into large busses which travel between cities and states, claiming that seatbelts could help cut the number of fatalities and moderate-to-severe injuries in half.
The most recently proposed standard would establish performance requirements that newly manufactured motorcoaches and large buses must meet. The NHTSA has devised a dynamic test which would simulate a rollover crash event in order to test a vehicle’s compliance with the new standards. The test will subject busses being knocked over from a raised platform onto a hard level surface. In order to pass the test, busses would have to meet the following requirements.
- Space around occupant seating positions must remain in tack enough to afford occupants a survivable space in a crash.
- Seats, overhead luggage racks, and window glazing must also remain intact and attached to their mountings during and after the crash simulation.
- Emergency exits will be required to remain closed during the rollover test and fully operable in the aftermath of event.
If accepted, these new regulations would apply to all subsequently produced commercial busses. The United Motorcoach Association estimates that it will still take roughly another two decades however before all motrocoaches and large transit busses are in full compliance with the new regulations, as buses are typically on the road for about 20 to 25 years.
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