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From Products Liability Law Daily, July 31, 2014

NHTSA proposes structural integrity safety standard for large buses

By Pamela C. Maloney, J.D.

A new federal motor vehicle safety standard designed to enhance the structural integrity of certain types of large buses in the event of a rollover crash has been proposed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This proposal was issued pursuant to the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety At of 2012 which was passed as part of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-221) signed into law on July 6, 2012. The proposed rulemaking is part of both NHTSA and DOT’s continual efforts to improve safety in motorcoaches and other types of large busses and builds on NHTSA’s seat belt rule by requiring these vehicles to meet increased structural integrity and other requirements to protect both restrained and unrestrained occupants in rollover crashes (NHTSA Press ReleaseNHTSA 30-14, July 30, 2014).

Under the proposed performance requirements, new large buses (generally, over the road buses of any weight and non-over-the road buses with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) greater than 11,793 kilograms (26,000 lbs) must met a test in which the vehicle is tipped over from an 800 millimeter raised platform onto a level surface. The test is based on the complete vehicle rollover test of ECE R.66.

Buses subject to the standard must meet the following standards when the vehicle is subjected to the rollover structural integrity test: (1) these vehicles must provide a sufficient level of survival space to restrained occupants during rollover crashes; (2) the anchorage of each seat and overhead luggage racks must not separate completely from the mounting structure; (3) each side window glazing opposite the impacted side of the vehicle must remain attached to its mounting; and (4) emergency exits must remain shut during the test and must be operable both during and after a rollover crash.

NHTSA believes that these proposed requirements would provide reasonable and needed improvements to the types of buses with the greatest safety risk in rollovers. More specifically, the agency stated that the proposed requirements for maintaining the survival space and ensuring that seats, overhead luggage racks, and window glazing remain attached to their mounting structures would set a minimum level of structural integrity for these buses, to help prevent dangerous structural intrusions into the occupant survival space. The proposed requirement that emergency exits remain closed during the rollover structural integrity test and operable after the test would increase the likelihood that emergency exits do not become ejection portals during rollover crashes while ensuring that the emergency exits remain an effective means of egress after the crash.

MainStory: TopStory NHTSANewsStory MotorVehiclesNews

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