New Bus Safety Recommendations Being Examined by NHTSA

After the New York bus crash that killed 15 people earlier this month, transportation safety has frequently been in the headlines. The latest of these headlines focused on the lack of technology in large motor coaches.

Technology such as adaptive cruise control and electronic stability control are not currently present in most commercial busses. Many of these safety features are already standard in most passenger cars, SUVs and pickup trucks, including features that adjust a car’s speed based on traffic flow and prevent SUV rollovers.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), safety advocates have been recommending improved safety features in buses for years, but regulators have not yet implemented any of their suggestions.

The deputy administrator for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) noted that the NHTSA is planning to issue new safety standards for busses, but it is taking special care in drafting the regulations. “We are dedicated to getting this done as fast as we can, but we want to base it on good science and good engineering,” he said.

Many of the proposed safety recommendations are focused on preventing rollovers and reducing the probability of ejections after a bus crash. The Department of Transportation acknowledged that in the last few years almost half of all fatal bus crashes were due to rollovers and about 70 percent of bus crash fatalities were due to passengers being ejected from the bus.

Recommendations currently being considered include:

  • Requiring seatbelts for all passengers
  • Installing electronic onboard recorders that would track how many hours drivers have been on the road without a break
  • Making stronger requirements for roof materials and construction to prevent the bus from crushing or the roof being sheared off in the event of a rollover
  • Using a shatter-resistant glaze coating on windows
  • Adding more accessible exits and easier-to-open windows

While the NHTSA estimates that the initial expense of implementing these safety recommendations could be in the tens of thousands of dollars per bus, the cost to consumers would actually translate to only about 5 cents more per ticket.

Source: NTSB chief: Technology could prevent bus accidents