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NHTSA Proposes New Regulations for Bus Safety

Posted on in Car Accidents

bus rollovers, bus safety, McHenry County traffic accident lawyer, rollover accident, rollovers, bus accident, bus passengersLarge buses and motor coaches are some of the most popular ways for people to take a long distance trip. Every year, hundreds of millions of people choose to travel this way. However, these buses can make for a dangerous ride. The design of the buses makes them particularly prone to rollover accidents, which are a disproportionately deadly form of crash. Fortunately, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a branch of the U.S. Department of Transportation, recently proposed a new set of safety standards for large bus rollovers modeled after similar regulations that are already in place in Europe.

Danger From Rollovers

Rollovers are an especially dangerous form of accident, but buses, by their design, are likely to experience this sort of crash. The issue relates to the buses' size and shape. They are tall vehicles that also happen to be disproportionately narrow, which raises the vehicle's center of gravity. That higher center of gravity makes the bus more likely to tip in the event that the driver is forced to swerve or turn sharply. In fact, over half of all bus fatalities from 1998 to 2008 occurred because of a rollover accident.

Other portions of bus designs can also make them more prone to cause serious accidents. For instance, buses tend to pack passengers close together during transit to maximize their use of space. Providing so little space for passengers makes it more likely that they will be injured during the rollover as their space contracts inward, smashing them into the metal sides of the bus or each other. Additionally, there are often many objects in buses that are already loose during transit or that may break free during a crash. These can form dangerous projectiles during a rollover accident and cause extra damage.

The New Standards

To combat these issues, the NHTSA has proposed a new safety standard for buses. This safety standard relates to how buses should perform during rollover safety tests. Such tests are performed by elevating the bus onto a raised platform and then pushing it over, rolling it onto a hard, flat surface below the platform. During one of those tests, the NHTSA's new standards would require several conditions. First, the space around the seats must stay intact enough to provide passengers with a “survivable space” following the rollover. Second, portions of the bus such as the windowpanes, luggage racks, and seats must stay attached to the frame during the crash so that they do not injure passengers. Third, the emergency exits must remain closed during the crash and still function after it.

If you have recently been injured in a bus rollover or any other type of traffic accident, reach out to a dedicated McHenry County personal injury lawyer today. Our firm can help answer your questions and make sure you understand all your legal options.

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