Lawmakers want transportation department to increase motorcoach safety

(Photo by Todd DeFeo/The DeFeo Groupe)

A pair of Democrat lawmakers want the federal government to improve motorcoach safety.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., made the call in the wake of a Jan. 5 bus crash in Pennsylvania that killed five.

Brown and Lewis sent a letter to the Department of Transportation (DOT), calling on the agency to:

  • Revisit retrofitting older motorcoaches with seatbelts
  • Move forward on two rules based on Brown’s legislation to improve roof strength and anti-ejection safety
  • Issue outstanding reports on studies researching collision avoidance systems, interior impact protection and compartmentalization safety countermeasures
  • Issue fire prevention standards based on research completed because of Brown’s legislation

“The Department of Transportation needs to stop dragging its feet and stop putting students and other passengers at risk – it’s their job to make sure Ohioans are safe on the road,” Brown said in a statement. “Every day Americans take more than 1.5 million motorcoach trips, and parents sending their children on field trips or on the road to away games shouldn’t have to worry the bus they’re riding isn’t safe.”

In 2012, Brown sponsored the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act, which required safety belts and stronger seating systems, anti-ejection glazing windows to prevent passengers from being easily thrown outside the motorcoach and strong, crush-resistant roofs that withstand rollovers. Lawmakers included the bill as part of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act.

According to Brown, the DOT has not fully implemented several provisions of the bill.

The Ohio lawmaker wants the DOT to revisit the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act from MAP-21 and provide a timeline for completing and implementing the outstanding rules and publishing the required report. Specifically, he wants the feral agency to finalize the outstanding rules and reports and use tools at their disposal to enhance the safety of motorcoaches.

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