The U.S. Department of Transportation is in hot pursuit of safety standards to protect the occupants of motor coaches. However, the department is more than three months behind in releasing a congressionally mandated study on cab crashworthiness for commercial trucks.
The DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Thursday, July 31, that it will issue a notice of proposed rulemaking to improve support pillars, strengthen overhead luggage racks, and provide more space around bus occupants to increase safety in bus crashes and rollovers.
“The countermeasures may include stronger roof structure, support pillars, and side walls, shock resistant latches for emergency exits, stronger seat and overhead luggage rack anchorages, and improved window mounting,” the notice states.
According to the DOT, an evaluation of structural integrity will involve tipping over some test buses to see if improved exits and luggage racks hold up against the standards.
NHTSA plans to conduct a 60-day comment period once the proposal hits the Federal Register.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, whose membership is primarily truckers but does include some in the motor coach industry, says the feds need to step up to the plate and complete the crashworthiness study for truck cabs.
“NHTSA was charged by Congress to conduct a study into issues related to truck cab crashworthiness,” OOIDA Director of Government Affairs Ryan Bowley said.
The study was due to be presented to Congress in April, but as Bowley points out, “we have yet to see any sign of progress from the agency.”
A call to NHTSA by Land Line was not returned as of Thursday afternoon.
In 2012, almost 700 truck drivers and passengers were killed in crashes, an increase of 9 percent from the year before.
“NHTSA appears to be focused on advancing ‘accident prevention’ technologies despite the fact that Congress required the agency to focus on occupant protection and crashworthiness improvements for trucks,” Bowley said.
In February, the National Transportation Safety Board, an independent agency that makes recommendations to federal regulators, issued a strong call for vehicle occupant protections for just about every type of vehicle that uses the highways – except trucks.
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