NHTSA Proposes New Safety Rules for Bus Windows and Doors

Experienced Lawyers Working with Bus Accident Victims in Rhode Island and Massachusetts

In late April 2016, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposed a new Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard designed to help reduce fatalities and injuries in motorcoach and large bus crashes by preventing – or at least reducing the incidence of – being thrown from the vehicle during a bus rollover.

Rollovers Are All Too Common

Rollovers are more common than one would think. On May 22, 2016, a bus rollover in the San Bernardino mountains of California injured 26 – two critically. On May 14, 2016, a bus rollover in Texas killed eight and injured 44 passengers. In March 2016, 26 Indiana high school basketball players and team officials were hospitalized after the bus in which they were riding overturned. In the Indiana crash, the bus was struck by another driver who lost control of his own vehicle after spilling a drink, police indicated.

New Test Would Strengthen Windows and Doors

In general, NHTSA is proposing a new test on the glazing material of side and rear windows and glass panels on the roof of motorcoaches and large buses. The test simulates an unbelted occupant impacting a window on the opposite side of the bus during a bus rollover crash. The proposal would require the installation of advanced glazing and improved emergency exit latches in motorcoaches and large buses.

Buses Are Less Stable Than Cars

Because of the shape of a bus – it is much “taller” than a standard car – it has a high center of gravity. You needn’t have a Ph.D. in physics to know that the higher an object’s center of gravity, the easier it is to tip over. Unfortunately, taking a steep curve at too great a speed, a collision with a standing object or another vehicle, or a drop onto the shoulder of a highway may be all it takes to cause a bus rollover.

Injuries Can Be Severe

Accident experts have identified three primary causes of injury during a rollover:

  • Intrusion. When the bus rolls over, the impact can cause severe damage to the structure of the bus. Parts of the bus can be bent inward so as to intrude into the passenger cabin, striking those inside the bus.
  • Projection. As the bus rolls over, passengers (who often do not have seat belts) are thrust against each other and against the interior of the bus. Heavy objects, including luggage, can become “missiles,” causing injury when they strike passengers.
  • Ejection. This is the most dangerous aspect of many rollovers, and NHTSA’s new test and rule is aimed at this problem. During a rollover, passengers can be thrown partially or completely out of the vehicle. The ejected passenger can be run over and crushed. He or she can sustain severe injuries when striking the ground at the crash site.

Rhode Island Bill Requiring School Bus Seatbelts

In  similar vein, the Rhode Island Senate passed bill S2256, requiring safety (seat) belts in all private buses and school buses and passengers in these buses to be secured by the safety belts. All newly purchased or leased school buses would require safety belt equipment for the driver and passengers. The legislation is currently pending before the Rhode Island House. We will continue to blog about this issue should this important piece of legislation pass.

Involved in a Bus Crash?

Have you or a loved one been injured in a bus crash? If so, you deserve skillful, energetic, and experienced attorneys to help you prepare your case. The injury lawyers at the Bottaro Law Firm, LLC have the resources to investigate the accident and fight to protect your legal rights. We will pursue your case at no cost until we win. Remember that delay can harm your case. Our experienced legal team is available 24/7 for a free consultation. Give us a call at 866-529-9700, or complete the convenient online contact form.