Under a federal rule issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that was passed on Nov. 21, 2013, new tour buses and buses that provide services between cities must be equipped with seatbelts. This new federal rule goes into effect beginning in November 2016.
This safety measure was initiated by accident investigators. The movement to require safety belts on buses has been an ongoing battle for more than 50 years.
Beginning in November 2016, all new motor coaches and some other large buses must be manufactured with seatbelts, which includes a 3-point lap-shoulder belt. Unfortunately, this federal rule doesn’t apply to school buses or public city transit buses. It seems odd that it wouldn’t provide for the safety of children as well as adults on public buses.
On average each year, 21 people riding in large buses have been killed in crashes while nearly 8,000 others are injured, according to the NHTSA. It is estimated that seatbelts could have reduced fatalities and the severity of injuries by nearly half. Almost half of all motorcoach fatalities are caused because of rollovers. About 70% of those killed in rollover bus accidents were ejected from the bus. With a seatbelt in place, passengers would not likely be thrown out of the bus on impact or when it rolled over.
About 700 million passengers a year in the United States are moved about by the 29,000 motorcoaches that transports them. According to the United Motorcoach Association, the 700 million passengers traveling by bus is about the same number of passengers who travel on the United States airline industry.
Because the average useful life of an over-the-road motorcoach is 20-25 years, it is likely that it will be many years before most of the motorcoaches that are used in passenger travel will be equipped with seatbelts. We know that seatbelts save lives. There was a time when most American cars were not equipped with seatbelts or airbags.
Today it is illegal in most Chicago area communities to drive a car without using a seatbelt. It is well-known that seatbelts, as well as front and side impact airbags, have saved thousands of lives over the years. There is a need for seatbelts installed on all buses, whether city public buses, school buses or motor coach-type buses. Legislation should be enacted without delay mandating that seatbelts be required as a matter of law.
Kreisman Law Offices has been handling bus accidents, car accidents and bicycle accidents for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 38 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Alsip, Kildeer, Long Grove, Buffalo Grove, Mount Prospect, Schaumburg, Rolling Meadows, South Barrington, Barrington Hills, Hoffman Estates, Streamwood and Bloomingdale, Ill.
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