NHTSA proposes seatbelts for motorcoaches

  • 25-Aug-2010 05:20 EDT

NHTSA (U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) is proposing to amend the federal motor vehicle safety standard (FMVSS) on occupant crash protection (FMVSS No. 208) to require lap/shoulder seatbelts for each passenger seating position in new motorcoaches. It would also require a lap/shoulder belt for the motorcoach and large school bus driver's seating positions, which currently are required to have either a lap or a lap/shoulder belt. Although motorcoach transportation overall is a safe form of transportation in the United States, several motorcoach crashes in 2008 have illustrated that motorcoach rollover crashes, while a relatively rare event, can cause a significant number of fatal or serious injuries in a single event. NHTSA's safety research on motorcoach seatbelts, completed in 2009, shows that the installation of lap/shoulder belts on motorcoaches is practicable and effective. Based on a 10-year average, there were 18.6 fatalities and 7887 injuries to motorcoach occupants annually. The agency estimates that installing lap/ shoulder seatbelts on new motorcoaches would save 1-8 lives and prevent 144-794 injuries annually, depending on the usage. The cost of adding lap/shoulder belts and making structural changes to the motorcoach floor would be approximately $12,900 per vehicle, with the total cost being $25.8 million for the 2000 motorcoaches sold per year. Lifetime fuel costs due to an increased weight of the motorcoach would be an additional cost. The cost per equivalent life saved is estimated to be $1.3 million to $9.9 million. It is believed that the seatbelts for motorcoach passenger seats could reduce the risk of fatal injuries in rollover crashes by 77%, primarily by preventing occupant ejection.

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