Shoulder, lap belts required for select new bus models by 2016

Washington – Many new motorcoaches and large buses will be required to have lap and shoulder belts installed in every seat beginning in late 2016, according to a final rule from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The rule will apply to all new over-the-road bus models, defined as any motorcoach with an elevated passenger deck situated over a baggage compartment, in addition to all new large bus models with a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,000 pounds or more. The final rule does not apply to transit or school buses.

According to NHTSA research cited in the final rule, lap and shoulder belts reduce the risk of fatalities in large bus rollover crashes by 77 percent, primarily by helping prevent occupant ejections. The safety belts also have been found to be “highly effective” in reducing injuries in frontal crashes.

In a Nov. 20 press release, NHTSA encouraged organizations to voluntarily comply before the Nov. 28, 2016, deadline. The final rule fulfills a requirement in MAP-21, a 2012 surface transportation funding bill.