The state pupil transportation directors group has expressed its support for a federal proposal to require lap-shoulder belts on new motorcoaches.
The National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) submitted comments last week on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposed rulemaking, which was issued in August.
NASDPTS said it shares the agency’s interest in improving motorcoach safety, because some states and local education agencies allow motorcoaches to be used for transporting students in field and activity trips. The NHTSA proposal notes that 65 percent of motorcoach trips are made by children and senior citizens.
“We share the concerns expressed by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in its prior recommendations and by NHTSA in this docket about the number of fatalities resulting from passenger ejections in crashes involving motorcoaches,” NASDPTS wrote in its comments.
Motorcoaches in the U.S. carry 750 million passengers annually, and an average of 19 motorcoach occupants are killed each year. According to NHTSA, wearing lap-shoulder belts on motorcoaches could reduce passengers’ risk of being killed in a rollover crash by 77 percent.
The NHTSA proposed rulemaking would mandate that new motorcoaches have lap-shoulder belts for each forward-facing passenger seat and either a lap or lap-shoulder belt in each side-facing seat.
“NASDPTS supports these belt requirements to ensure increased safety for all ages and sizes of children that may utilize motorcoaches on field or activity trips,” the association wrote.
NHTSA also proposed to require lap-shoulder belts for the driver position in new motorcoaches and new large school buses. NASDPTS said that it conducted an informal survey of the large school bus OEMs and found that “currently no new large school buses are being manufactured without lap-shoulder belts installed at the driver’s position.”
NASDPTS also noted that most states already require driver lap-shoulder belts in their school bus specifications. But the association still pledged its support for a federal requirement.
“It is critical to the safety of student passengers, other motorists, pedestrians, cyclists and bus drivers themselves that school bus drivers remain safely secured behind the wheel during unexpected sudden maneuvers of the bus,” the association wrote. “NASDPTS strongly supports a federal lap-shoulder belt requirement for the driver’s position in all new motorcoaches and large school buses.”
To view the NASDPTS comments in their entirety, click here.