Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Transportation has released its new Motorcoach Safety Action Plan, which lays out concrete steps for improving the safety of highway buses by addressing such issues as driver fatigue and inattention, vehicle rollover, occupant ejections, and oversight of unsafe carriers.
“We are committed to making sure that bus travellers reach their destinations safely,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “These improvements will not only help reduce the number of motorcoach crashes, it will also help save lives and reduce injuries.”
While motorcoaches carry 750 million passengers annually and are an overall safe mode of highway transportation in the U.S., an average of 19 are killed in crashes each year. Additional fatalities result among pedestrians and occupants of other vehicles involved in the crashes.
The plan proposes enhanced regulatory oversight of new and high-risk motorcoach operators, as well as the increased use of new technologies. To address driver distraction, it proposes to initiate rulemaking to prohibit texting, and limit the use of cellular telephones and other devices by motorcoach drivers. It also discusses requiring electronic on-board recording devices on all motorcoaches to better monitor drivers’ duty hours to address fatigue.
In addition, the plan proposes requiring the installation of seatbelts, and discusses additional measures such as the establishment of performance requirements for enhanced roof strength, fire safety, and emergency egress.