Currently, large buses are not equipped with protective seat belts. But click here to see how this will all change with NHTSA’s new 2016 bus safety law.

Pros and Cons of New Seat Belt Requirements for Bus Safety

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Every year, an average of 21 people are killed and nearly 8,000 injured in large bus accidents. In response to the dangers inflicted on passengers during bus accidents, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a final ruling on seat belt requirements for motor coaches and large buses. This ruling, which will take effect in November of 2016, will require the installation of three-point lap-shoulder seat belts in newly manufactured coaches and large passenger buses.   

The only exceptions to this mandate are:

  • Airport and rental car shuttle buses
  • School buses and city transit buses (some states already require seat belts in school buses, but Washington is not one of them)
  • Federal government buses
  • Trains, trolleys & subways

Why Some Oppose the Law

Despite the evidence of increased safety, some still feel that requiring restraints in buses is more trouble than it’s worth. In fact, the opposition to the new law claims that fitting restraints in bus seats would be a waste of money since only three percent of bus passengers use seat belts when available. A few of the opposing arguments state that the law will be:   

  • Insufficent. The finalized NHTSA regulation only pertains to new motor coaches being manufactured now—existing buses are not required to be retrofitted with new seat belt—and does not require passengers to actually wear the seat belts (individual states have control over mandating use). As most bus injuries occur as a result of being ejected from the bus, having seat belts that aren’t being used won’t help.
  • Costly. A new motor coach costs between $475,000 to $650,000 and adding seat belts to a new bus during initial manufacturing will add another $25,000 to the already high cost.
  • Doesn't address older buses. Although it is not mandatory for older motor coaches to be retrofitted, it may actually be impossible for some. Motor coaches older than 2008 have a different construction than current models and their seats do not support the design for restraint retrofits.

Tell Us What You Think

Let us know your thoughts and concerns regarding this issue in the comment section provided. We’re eager to hear what you have to say and look forward to reading your replies.


Category: Truck and Bus Accidents


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