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NHTSA Proposes Federal Safety Standards to Better Protect Large Bus Passengers

While it’s true that rollover accidents can have devastating consequences for the occupants of any automobile, they are especially hazardous in cases involving SUVs, large trucks, and buses. These vehicles are constituted by taller, narrower frames, which create a higher center of gravity that is far more susceptible to tipping when suddenly shifted to one side or the other.

To get an idea of just how violent rollover accidents really are, one need only look as far as the Consumer Reports statistics. Despite the fact that rollovers accounted for just 3 out of every 100 serious traffic accidents in 2013, they were responsible for roughly 30% of all fatalities among individuals riding in a passenger vehicle. Even when rollovers don’t prove to be deadly, they routinely leave victims debilitated, unable to work, and in need of personal, medical, and legal assistance just to take care of themselves and pay their bills.

Last month, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposed an updated set of federal motor vehicle safety standards aimed at providing better protection for the passengers of motor coaches and other large buses in the event of rollover accidents. The new federal standard would establish a performance review process modeled closely after some of the large bus safety regulations currently used in Europe. Among the safety requirements would be a dynamic stability test, which would involve each of the vehicle models being tipped over from a raised platform onto a hard level surface. In order to be approved, all new motor coaches and large buses would need to meet the following performance standards:

• Following rollover and stability crash tests, the space surrounding each vehicle occupant seating position must be safely maintained to afford the occupants of all motor coaches and buses a survivable space in the event of an accident.
• During and after crash tests, all seats, overhead luggage racks, and window glazing should not break away from their mountings.
• While rollover tests are being conducted, emergency exits and doors should at no time open or break away. Additionally, immediately following the crash, these emergency exits should be readily operable to allow passengers a means of freeing themselves from the accident.

Our legal team has represented a number of bus accident injury victims, and we know first-hand how traumatic these incidents can be for everyone involved. Throughout the United States, some 700 million trips are taken using commercial buses and motor coaches every year, and this high frequency of use means that accidents have the potential to affect all of us. The next time a serious CTA accident occurs, one of the individuals injured could be your parent, your spouse, or your child. When accidents occur, safety features such as the ones proposed by the NHTSA could be the difference between life and death. (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; Consumer Reports)

If you or someone you know has been the victim of a motor vehicle accident caused by the actions of a negligent or reckless driver, retaining experienced legal counsel possible is essential to protecting the rights of the victim and their family and ensuring that victims receive fair and reasonable compensation for the harms caused to them.