|DOT Secretary LaHood Orders Motorcoach Safety Report|
|Written by Stephane Babcock|
|Wednesday, 06 May 2009 00:00|
The U.S. Department of Transportation will launch a three-month study of motorcoach safety under orders from the U.S. Department of Transportation, Secretary Ray LaHood announced last week.
According to the DOT, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the Federal Highway Administration and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration will work together to form an “Action Plan” for improving motorcoach safety. The DOT said it would consider past recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board, though the Board would not be directly involved in writing the report.
NHTSA spokesman Rae Tyson said the report will require no additional funding. NHTSA and William Quaid will lead the project. The report is expected in August.
Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX) praised the announcement. The senators have twice tried to introduce legislation that would require lap/shoulder belts, stronger seats, anti-ejection glazing, stronger roofs, improved fire protection, commercial driver training and electronic on-board recorders with real-time capabilities on all bus within the next three years.
The United Motorcoach Association (UMA) and the American Bus Association (ABA) welcomed the study as well, saying it had been waiting on federal regulators devote more resources safety research, testing and enforcement since 1997. But both organizations support an alternative to the Brown-Hutchinson bill that would give FMCSA three years to study motorcoach safety and develop recommendations for regulation. The associations have said their priorities are operator- rather than vehicle-oriented issues. They say more crashes are caused by outlaw operators and unenforced violations of existing rules than by vehicle failures.
LaHood’s orders follow several high-profile motorcoach crashes, including a 2008 crash that killed nine and injured 43 others. The NTSB recently said speeding and driver fatigue contributed to that crash but also cited motorocoach occupant protection. A 1999 report found improved occupant restraint in motorcoaches would reduce risk in motorcoach crashes and asked NHTSA to require motorcoach bus occupant protection systems that retain passengers in their seats. In reviews from 2006, 2007 and 2008 of the recommendation, the NTSB determined this was a “Most Wanted” safety improvement and said the progress on the issue was “acceptable, moving slowly.”
NHTSA’s Tyson said another study of motorcoach occupant protection is already underway and a final roll-over crash test could be completed in the next month. While he said he was unsure how a study of motorcoach fire suppression and occupant egress were proceeding, he added that some form of rulemaking should be released by the end of this year.
|Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 November 2009 13:43|