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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation H-10-003
Details
Synopsis: On Friday, January 30, 2009, about 4:06 p.m. mountain standard time, a 2007 Chevrolet/Starcraft 29-passenger medium-size bus, operated by DW Tour and Charter and occupied by the driver and 16 passengers, was traveling northbound in the right lane of U.S. Highway 93, a four-lane divided highway, near Dolan Springs, in Mohave County, Arizona. The bus was on a return trip from Grand Canyon West to Las Vegas, Nevada, after a day-long tour. As the bus approached milepost 28 at a speed of 70 mph,2 it moved to the left and out of its lane of travel. The driver steered sharply back to the right, crossing both northbound lanes and entering the right shoulder. The driver subsequently overcorrected to the left, causing the bus to yaw and cross both northbound lanes. The bus then entered the depressed earthen median and overturned 1.25 times before coming to rest on its right side across both southbound lanes. During the rollover sequence, 15 of the 17 occupants (including the driver) were fully or partially ejected. Seven passengers were killed, and nine passengers and the driver received injuries ranging from minor to serious. At the time of the accident, skies were clear, the temperature was 61° F, and the wind was blowing from the north–northeast at 8 mph.
Recommendation: TO THE NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION: In your rulemaking to improve motorcoach roof strength, occupant protection, and window glazing standards, include all buses with a gross vehicle weight rating above 10,000 pounds, other than school buses.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Open - Unacceptable Response
Mode: Highway
Location: Dolan Springs, AZ, United States
Is Reiterated: Yes
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: HWY09MH009
Accident Reports: Bus Loss of Control and Rollover
Report #: HAR-10-01
Accident Date: 1/30/2009
Issue Date: 7/8/2010
Date Closed:
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: NHTSA (Open - Unacceptable Response)
Keyword(s):

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: NHTSA
Date: 11/13/2017
Response: We note that your rulemaking regarding occupant protection and rollover structural integrity discussed mid-size buses; however, we were disappointed that your final rule regarding occupant protection did not apply to all buses over 10,000 pounds. Because you continue to work on rulemaking intended to improve motorcoach roof strength and window glazing standards, we urge you to reconsider your cost–benefit data for buses with GVWRs between 10,000 and 26,000 pounds and to expand the applicability of subsequent rulemaking stages to all buses, as recommended. Pending such action, Safety Recommendation H-10-3 remains classified OPEN--UNACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: NTSB
To: NHTSA
Date: 7/5/2016
Response: The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has reviewed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), “Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; Bus Emergency Exits and Window Retention and Release, Anti-Ejection Glazing for Bus Portals,” which was published at 81 Federal Register 27904 on May 6, 2016. The notice proposes a new Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 217a to require the installation of advanced window glazing in high-occupancy buses and non over the-road buses with a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 11,793 kilograms (26,000 pounds). The term “high-occupancy buses” is used generally to describe over-the-road buses of any weight (commonly referred to as motorcoaches). The proposed standard would specify impactor testing of glazing material and apply performance requirements for windows or glass panels on the sides, rear, and roof of the bus, to mitigate ejection and ensure that emergency exits remain operable. The proposed standard would also limit the protrusion of emergency exit latches into the emergency exit window opening to reduce hindrances to egress for these buses as well as new school buses. (1) Applying this Rulemaking to Other Buses, such as Medium-Size Buses The NTSB appreciates that NHTSA has kept the definition of “motorcoach” consistent with the one it used in the 2013 final rule on occupant crash protection and the 2014 NPRM on bus rollover structural integrity. However, as the NTSB has previously commented, this definition does not include a type of bus that is often used similarly to motorcoaches—medium size buses weighing 26,000 pounds or less. Such buses are typically built as body on chassis and without an elevated passenger deck over a baggage compartment, so they do not fall within the “over-the-road bus” definition. Often, medium-size buses weigh less than 26,001 pounds, which excludes them from the passenger lap/shoulder belt requirements of FMVSS 208. Consequently, the unbelted passengers of medium-size buses are particularly vulnerable to partial and full ejection due to window separation. One case that demonstrates the occupant protection deficiencies of medium-size buses is a crash that occurred in 2009 near Dolan Springs, Arizona. A medium-size bus was traveling on a rural road when it rolled over and ejected 15 of its 17 occupants. In its report on this crash, the NTSB issued Safety Recommendation H 10 3, recommending that NHTSA— In your ruling to improve motorcoach roof strength, occupant protection, and window glazing standards, include all buses with a gross vehicle weight rating above 10,000 pounds, other than school buses. (H-10-3) The NTSB reiterated Safety Recommendation H-10-3 in its report on another crash involving a medium-size bus, which occurred in 2014 in Davis, Oklahoma. The Davis crash is an example of how the proposed glazing standard would benefit medium-size bus safety and of how vital it is to increase restraint use. The medium-size Davis bus was equipped with seat belts, even though they were not required, but none of the passengers used the belts. The four passengers who were ejected died in the crash, but all those who remained inside the bus survived the crash forces and the subsequent rollover. Medium-size buses such as those involved in the Dolan Springs and Davis crashes would not be subject to the proposed FMVSS 217a. Therefore, the NTSB again encourages NHTSA to include all buses with a gross vehicle weight rating above 10,000 pounds in its rulemakings to improve bus roof strength, occupant protection, and window glazing standards.

From: NHTSA
To: NTSB
Date: 4/12/2016
Response: From Mark Rosekind, Administrator: We provided updates to four of the reiterated Safety Recommendations (H-99-54, H-10-7, H-10-14, and H-10-I5) in a letter dated December 18, 2015. These four Safety Recommendations request that the agency develop and implement performance standards for heavy vehicle event data recorders in trucks and buses over 10,000 pounds. In the December 18 letter, we responded that we intend no further action and requested that these four Safety Recommendations be closed. Safety Recommendation H-10-03 requested that NHTSA's rulemakings include all buses (other than school buses) with GVWRs above 10,000 pounds in order to improve motorcoach roof strength, occupant protection, and window glazing standards. Mid-size buses were discussed in our final rule requiring seat belts on buses 1 and in the proposed rule for bus rollover structural integrity. 2 The agency did not expand applicability of these rulemaking actions to buses with GVWRs between 10,000 and 26,000 pounds because development of a regulation for these buses was not found to be cost beneficial. We intend no further action on this Safety Recommendation, and request that this Safety Recommendation be closed. In summary, we are requesting that Safety Recommendation H-15-04 be classified as "Open Acceptable Response". For the reiterated recommendations H-99-54, H-10-03, H-10-07, H-10-14, and H-10-15, NHTSA intends no further action, and requests that these recommendations be closed.

From: NTSB
To: NHTSA
Date: 10/2/2014
Response: Correspondence Control # 201400941: The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has reviewed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) “Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; Bus Rollover Structural Integrity, Motorcoach Safety Plan; Proposed Rule,” which was published at 79 Federal Register 46090 on August 6, 2014. The proposed rule is intended to enhance the rollover structural integrity of certain types of large buses—generally, over-the-road buses of any weight (commonly referred to as motorcoaches)—and non-over-the-road buses with gross vehicle weight ratings (GVWR) greater than 11,793 kilograms (kg), and proposes a definition for over-the-road buses. Dolan Springs, Arizona The NTSB investigated the January 30, 2009, crash in Dolan Springs, Arizona, which involved a 29-passenger medium-size bus with a GVWR of 19,500 pounds and an overall length of 32 feet. The bus’s interior configuration had seven rows of forward-facing motorcoach style seats behind the driver. Overhead luggage racks were located above the seats, and storage space for luggage was provided in the rear of the bus. In this crash, the bus overturned 1.25 times after it left the roadway, coming to rest on its right side. During the rollover, 15 of the 17 occupants, including the driver, were ejected. Seven passengers were killed, and nine passengers and the driver were injured. This crash provided a prime example of why medium size buses need occupant protection as much as larger buses do. As a result of the Dolan Springs investigation, we issued Safety Recommendations H-10-3 and -4, asking NHTSA to take the following actions: H-10-3 In your rulemaking to improve motorcoach roof strength, occupant protection, and window glazing standards, include all buses with a gross vehicle weight rating above 10,000 pounds, other than school buses. H-10-4 Develop performance standards for all newly manufactured buses with a gross vehicle weight rating above 10,000 pounds to require that overhead luggage racks are constructed and installed to prevent head and neck injuries and remain anchored during an accident sequence. We classified Safety Recommendations H-10-3 and -4 OPEN—UNACCEPTABLE RESPONSE because the 2013 final rule on occupant crash protection excepted buses with GVWRs between 10,000 and 26,000 pounds. In addition, medium-size buses are built and designed similarly to one another and may only vary by a few hundred pounds, creating a large disparity in the proposed rollover structural integrity requirements, which would include any non-over-the-road bus as long as it weighs over 26,000 pounds. For example, on September 29, 2010, a crash occurred near Bethesda, Maryland, involving a 2006 Freightliner/General Coach America 29-passenger medium-size bus with a GVWR of 26,000 pounds and an interior configuration with eight rows of forward-facing motorcoach-style seats behind the driver. Eleven passengers (including one child who was ejected from the bus) sustained injuries when the bus rolled 360 degrees down a steep bridge embankment. According to the NPRM, the Bethesda bus would be considered a non-over-the-road bus and, due to its weight (26,000 pounds), it would be subject to the proposed safety requirements; however, we note that even though it was over the 26,000-pound weight threshold, the medium size bus in the Bethesda crash was built the same (chassis-on-body design) and had the same 29-passenger seating capacity as the bus in the Dolan Springs accident. However, because of the weight threshold in the NPRM, these two buses would have significantly different levels of occupant protection. Roof crush performance standards are essential to protecting occupants of all types of passenger buses. We believe occupant protection should be afforded to every passenger on buses weighing over 10,000 pounds. During the Dolan Springs crash investigation, we found that the use of medium size buses is increasing because of their low retail cost compared to motorcoaches, relatively large passenger capacity, and resulting ability to generate high revenues. Compared to over-the-road buses, medium-size buses have a similar interior configuration, only slightly less passenger capacity, and a significantly lower purchase price. We agree with NHTSA’s belief, as stated in the NPRM, that these buses will pose still greater risks in the future when more medium size buses are in operation, increasing their exposure to rollovers and other crash events. We believe that crashes such as those cited above, and the fatalities and serious injuries that result from them, demonstrate that medium-size buses should not be excepted from the occupant protection standards for rollover structural integrity, seat anchorages, and overhead luggage racks proposed in the NPRM.

From: NTSB
To: NHTSA
Date: 2/10/2014
Response: List of 6 safety recommendations that were referenced in your final rule on occupant crash protection, published on November 25, 2013, which we are currently evaluating; these recommendations will be addressed in detail in separate correspondence. These recommendations included H-90-075, H-99-047, H-99-048, H-05-001, H-10-002, and H-10-003.

From: NTSB
To: NHTSA
Date: 2/7/2013
Response: We are pleased that NHTSA has incorporated the provisions of MAP-21 related to motorcoaches into its occupant protection rulemaking, and we look forward to the publication of the final rule later this year. We understand that NHTSA is also moving forward with a proposed rulemaking on motorcoach roof strength, also scheduled for publication in 2013. We note that this combined rulemaking should substantially address the four recommendations stated above; however, we are concerned that there has been no information published to date specifying that the proposed rules will apply to vehicles with GVWRs from 10,000 to 26,000 pounds. The Dolan Springs accident investigation, which prompted us to issue Safety Recommendation H-10-3, involved a bus with a GVWR of only 19,500 pounds; we found the use of these smaller buses increasing because of their ability to generate high revenues, their low retail costs compared to the costs of motorcoaches, and their passenger capacity. Although these buses have an interior configuration similar to that of a motorcoach, are often operated like motorcoaches are, and have only a slight reduction in passenger capacity from that of motorcoaches, they would be excluded from the current proposed regulations for passenger (and driver) lap/shoulder belts because of the over-26,000-pound GVWR requirement for these safety features. As the actions NHTSA has taken and planned represent progress toward the implementation of Safety Recommendations H 99 47 and -48 and H-05-1, these recommendations are classified “Open—Acceptable Response.” However, because there is no indication to date that NHTSA intends to include buses with GVWRs below 26,001 pounds in its upcoming rulemakings, Safety Recommendation H-10-3 remains classified OPEN—UNACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: NHTSA
To: NTSB
Date: 10/16/2012
Response: -From David L. Strickland, Administrator: NHTSA published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on August 18, 2010, titled, "Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards: Motorcoach Definition; Occupant Crash Protection" (docket number NHTSA-2010-0112). The NPRM proposed to amend the Federal motor vehicle safety standard for occupant crash protection to require, among other things, a lap/shoulder belt at all passenger seating positions on new buses with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of more than 11 ,793 kilograms (26,000 pounds) (except for a few excluded bus types, such as transit buses). It also proposed to apply requirements for seat belt anchorage loads, to ensure that the seats and seat belts will be strong enough to withstand the loads imposed in serious crashes. It also proposed to require lap/shoulder belts for the driver position of school buses greater than 4,536 kilograms ( 10,000 pounds) GVWR. NHTSA received over 130 comments on the NPRM from seat manufacturers, bus manufacturers and affiliates, large and small transportation providers, consumer and other organizations, and private individuals. The agency evaluated the comments and completed a draft of the final rule in May 2012. On Jul y 6, 2012, President Obama signed the "Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act" (MAP-21), which incorporated in Subtitle G the "Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act of 2012," P.L. 11 2-141. The MAP-21 states that the Secretary shall prescribe regulations requiring seat belts on motorcoaches at each designed seating position within one year. Given this new legislation, which included a specific motorcoach definition and a few additional requirements, the agency needed to review the draft final rule and make conforming changes to comply with the new legislation. This work has been completed and the final rule is currently under departmental review. Based on the agency's act ion in this area, NHTSA believes that recommendations H-99-47 and H-99-48 will be substantially fulfilled upon final rule publication. Thus, we request that the status of these recommendations be changed to Open-Acceptable Responses. We note that the status of the rulemaking reported above also applies to the following recommendations. We request that they be classified as Open-Acceptable Responses: H-05-001 and H-10-003.

From: NTSB
To: NHTSA
Date: 6/7/2011
Response: The NTSB understands that NHTSA is working on rulemaking that would address motorcoach structural integrity related to roof crush strength, occupant protection, window glazing, and overhead luggage racks for buses with a GVWR of 26,000 pounds and over. We remain concerned, however, by the lack of attention to buses in the 10,000-to 26,000-pound GVWR range. The Dolan Springs accident investigation found the use of these buses increasing due to their ability to generate high revenues, their low retail costs compared to motorcoaches, and their passenger capacity, which can be close to that of a full-sized n10torcoach. Until the structural integrity of all newly manufactured buses with a GVWR above 10,000 pounds is addressed to ensure survivable space for bus passengers, Safety Recomn1endations H-10-3 and -4 are classified OPEN—UNACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: NTSB
To: NHTSA
Date: 10/18/2010
Response: Notation 8250A, NPRM Comments October 18, 2010: The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has reviewed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), "Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; Motorcoach Definition; Occupant Crash Protection," which was published at 72 Federal Register 50958 on August 18,2010. The notice proposes to amend the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) on occupant crash protection (FMVSS No. 208) to require lap/shoulder belts for each passenger seating position in new motorcoaches. The notice also proposes to require a lap/shoulder belt for the motorcoach and large school bus driver's seating position, which currently can have either a lap-only belt or a lap/shoulder belt. To accomplish these requirements, the notice also proposes a motorcoach definition. The NTSB supports this rulemaking and is encouraged that NHTSA is moving forward on the November 2009 U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Motorcoach Safety Action Plan. I The NTSB also notes that the proposed rule provides for significant improvements in occupant safety for motorcoach passengers and for drivers of both large school buses and motorcoaches. However, the NTSB notes that the NPRM is inadequate with regard to the motorcoach definition because it does not adequately consider other buses that are often built, marketed, and used in a manner similar to a motorcoach; consequently, such buses would not afford their passengers any required form of occupant protection under this proposed rule. Occupant protection is a comprehensive system involving both proper restraint usage and maintenance of sufficient survival space surrounding each passenger. Motorcoaches and other buses, except school buses, currently lack standards to ensure survival space for restrained occupants in a rollover crash. Although the NTSB is pleased to see NHTSA propose motorcoach passenger lap/shoulder belts, the NTSB also encourages NHTSA to propose motorcoach roof crush performance standards. Occupant Protection Requirements for Motorcoaches The NTSB has long been concerned that motorcoach passengers are not adequately protected in collisions and has issued numerous recommendations since 1968 relating to seat belts and occupant protection systems. Motorcoach occupant protection has been an issue on the NTSB's Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements since 2000. Although FMVSSs exist for occupant protection, roof strength, and body joint strength for school buses, no similar standards apply to motorcoaches or other buses, except at the driver's position, where seat belts are required. The NTSB supports the proposal to require lap/shoulder belts for all passenger seating positions in motorcoaches. The NTSB's 1999 special investigation report on bus crashworthiness3 found that one of the primary causes of preventable injury in motorcoach accidents involving a rollover, ejection, or both, is occupant motion out of the seat during a collision when no intrusion occurs into the seating area. In addition, the NTSB concluded that the overall injury risk to occupants in motorcoach accidents involving rollover and ejection may be reduced significantly by retaining the occupant in the seating compartment throughout the collision. The NTSB is pleased that NHTSA is proposing to require lap/shoulder belts at each passenger seating position for motorcoaches, which addresses Safety Recommendations H-99-47 and -48, which were issued as a result of the 1999 special investigation. The NTSB also supports the proposal to require lap/shoulder belts for the driver's position for both large school buses and motorcoaches. The Alton, Texas, accident highlighted the need for upper and lower body restraint for the driver as well as for all passengers. Lap/shoulder belts provide additional restraint for the upper body and, therefore, the NTSB is pleased with NHTSA's proposal to require lap/shoulder belts for the driver's position in both large school buses and motorcoaches, which addresses Safety Recommendation H-90-75. Motorcoach Definition The NPRM proposes that a motorcoach be defined as a bus with a gross vehicle weight rating (OVWR) of 26,000 pounds or greater, a seating capacity of 16 or more designated positions including the driver, and at least two rows of forward-facing seats rearward in the driver's seating position. The definition further specifies that motorcoaches include buses sold for intercity, tour, and commuter bus service but does not include school buses or urban transit buses. The NPRM also notes that "shuttle" buses are not excluded from the motorcoach definition, but requests comments as to whether shuttle buses should be excluded, noting that some traverse substantial distances at highway speeds but that others may be operated in a manner that would make seat belts inappropriate. The NTSB is pleased that NHTSA included the NTSB's discussion and recommendations on recently investigated accidents involving buses that may be referred to as "shuttle" buses and believes that such accidents provide evidence that shuttle buses should be included in the motorcoach definition. Dolan Springs, Arizona The January 30, 2009, Dolan Springs, Arizona, accident 6 involved a 2007 Chevrolet/Starcraft 29-passenger medium-size bus with a GVWR of 19,500 pounds and an overall length of 32 feet. 7 The interior configuration was designed with seven rows of forward-facing motorcoach style seats behind the driver. Overhead luggage racks were located above the seats, and storage space for luggage was provided in the rear of the bus (see figures 1 and 2). In this accident, the bus overturned 1.25 times after it left the roadway and then came to rest on its right side. During the rollover sequence, 15 of the 17 occupants, including the driver, were ejected. Seven passengers were killed and nine passengers and the driver were injured. Lake Placid, Florida In February 2010, the NTSB investigated an accident in Lake Placid, Florida, involving a 2001 Ford/Krystal 32-passenger medium-size bus with a GVWR of 19,000 pounds and an overall length of 33 feet. The interior configuration was designed with eight rows of forward-facing motorcoach style seats behind the driver. Overhead luggage racks were installed above the seats for storage of luggage and personal items. After a collision on the left side with a passenger car, the bus driver swerved to the right. The bus then rolled onto its roof, ejecting, eight passengers, three of whom were killed. Twenty-eight of the 31 occupants were injured. As shown in figure 3, the roof of the Lake Placid bus sustained significant damage during the rollover. Although the interior design of these buses, their use for tour operations, and their 29- and 32-passenger seating capacity would be reasons to categorize them as motorcoaches, such medium-size buses are excluded from the current proposed regulations for passenger (and driver) lap/shoulder belts because of the 26,000-pound GVWR requirement. The NTSB concluded, as a result of the Dolan Springs accident investigation, that because of the lack of Federal standards for occupant protection systems, roof strength, and advanced window glazing, occupants of motorcoaches and medium-size buses (or "shuttle" buses) are similarly at risk of ejection during rollover accidents. Similar "shuttle" or medium-size buses can be built to carry up to 45 passengers and are often marketed as buses that have "big coach features" at an "affordable price.” Although these buses have an interior configuration similar to a motorcoach, are often operated like a motorcoach, and have only a slight reduction in passenger capacity, they are significantly less expensive to purchase. The Dolan Springs accident investigation found the use of these buses increasing due to their ability to generate high revenues, their low retail costs compared to motorcoaches, and their passenger capacity. Simple observation in the downtown Washington, D.C., area highlights the fact that medium-size buses travel long distances carrying paying passengers for sightseeing tours. The NTSB believes that medium-size buses, such as the Dolan Springs and Lake Placid buses, should be included in the motorcoach definition contained in this proposed rulemaking. The NTSB also believes that all buses with a GVWR above 10,000 pounds should be defined and have standards addressing roof strength, occupant protection, and window glazing. An accident that occurred during the comment period for this NPRM provides additional support for the NTSB's belief that shuttle buses including those weighing 26,000 pounds and greater should be included in the proposed rulemaking. The September 29, 2010, Bethesda, Maryland, accident involved a 2006 Freightliner/General Coach America 29 passenger medium-size bus with a GVWR of26,000 pounds and an interior configuration with eight rows of forward-facing motorcoach-style seats behind the driver. Eleven passengers (including one child who was ejected from the bus) sustained injuries when the bus struck a guardrail and a bridge rail and subsequently rolled 360 degrees down a steep bridge embankment. If passenger lap/shoulder belts had been available and worn, passengers would most likely have been retained in their seating compartment throughout the collision, and the injury severity probably would have been reduced. The medium-size bus in the Bethesda accident would qualify as a motorcoach under the proposed definition; consequently, it would be required to have lap/shoulder belts for the driver and all passengers. However, the Dolan Springs bus, which had the same seating capacity, a similar configuration, and a similar use in tour operations but which weighed slightly less than the Bethesda bus, would not be included in the proposed rulemaking. Although the Bethesda and Dolan Springs buses are essentially the same, under the proposed changes to Federal regulations, they would have significantly different levels of occupant protection because of the weight requirement. Comprehensive System of Roof Crush Performance Standards and Occupant Protection Standards Occupant protection is a comprehensive system requiring both proper restraint and maintenance of survival space, which could be compromised without roof crush performance standards. Requiring passenger lap/shoulder belts without also establishing a roof crush performance standard exposes passengers to potential injuries if the roof crushes downward onto the restrained passengers. The Lake Placid accident 15 is a good example of where seat belts alone would not have been an effective occupant protection system because of compromised survival space due to the significant roof crush. A motorcoach overturn in Old Bridge, New Jersey, in which the vehicle sustained significant roof crush and at least one fatality resulted from compressional asphyxia, is another example of where a comprehensive occupant protection system was needed. Roof crush performance standards are essential to protect the occupants of both motorcoaches and other buses. The need for these standards was addressed in both the 1999 special investigation17 and the Dolan Springs accident investigation,18 where the NTSB issued Safety Recommendations H-99-50, -51, and H-10-3 urging NHTSA to develop and require roof strength performance standards. The NTSB encourages NHTSA to propose roof crush performance standards, as detailed in the November 2009 Motorcoach Safety Action Plan, to complete the comprehensive system for occupant protection. Motorcoach roof crush performance standards and standards for passenger lap/shoulder belts should both be mandated to ensure a comprehensive occupant protection system. The NTSB appreciates the opportunity to comment on this NPRM addressing motorcoach safety and looks forward to working with NHTSA in the near future to address the concerns presented in these comments.

From: NHTSA
To: NTSB
Date: 10/7/2010
Response: MC# 201000405 - From David L. Strickland, Administrator: The safety of buses, motorcoaches, and other high occupancy commercial vehicles is a critical component to fulfilling our mission to prevent deaths and injuries on the nation's roadways. Because these vehicles serve as public transportation systems, there is an expectation that the highest levels of safety stringency be applied, especially since these vehicles often transport our most vulnerable populations, including children and the elderly. NHTSA's Vehicle Safety Rulemaking and Research Priority Plan 2009-2011 (Docket No. NHTSA-2009-0108) delineates our near-term actions in addressing these populations and vehicle types, and references related NTSB recommendations where appropriate. We are currently in the final process of publishing an update to that Plan for the time period 2010-2013. On August 18 we published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that proposes to address issues related to high occupancy vehicle Federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSS), motorcoach definition, and occupant crash protection (see 75 FR 50958, Docket No. NHTSA 2010-0112). The comment period for this NPRM closes on October 18. We highly encourage NTSB to submit comments on this proposed rule so we can incorporate these in our deliberations toward developing a final rule. Additional public documents that detail our vision, plans, and approach to high occupancy vehicle safety include our 2007 "NHTSA's Approach to Motorcoach Safety" (Docket No. NHTSA-2007-28793) and the DOT's 2009 Motorcoach Safety Action Plan (HS 811 177). Recommendations H-10-03 and -04 address motorcoach structural integrity related to roof crush strength, occupant protection, window glazing and overhead luggage racks, and propose to apply related standards to buses with a GVWR above 10,000 pounds. Our current activities include consideration of performance standards to require maintenance of occupant survival space, emergency exits to remain closed, seats and luggage racks to remain anchored and far-side glazing to remain in place. The 2009-2011 Priority Plan indicated our intent to make a decision on whether to proceed with rulemaking in 2009. That milestone was met and the decision made to proceed with rulemaking. The 2010-2013 Priority Plan update will provide insight into our planned rulemaking timeframe, and the public comments received in response to the currently pending NPRM will inform the agency's decision as to what definition of motorcoach such rulemaking would apply.

From: NHTSA
To: NTSB
Date:
Response: We are disappointed that your final rule on occupant protection excepted buses with a GVWR between 10,000 and 26,000 pounds. These buses are gaining an ever increasing market hold because, although they have the capacity to carry many passengers, they have low retail costs compared to motorcoaches, enabling carriers using them to generate high revenues. The NTSB remains concerned about the safety of these vehicles because of the lack of recommended occupant protection measures, and we encourage you to continue monitoring data for this group of buses. Pending inclusion of all buses over 10,000 pounds GVWR in future rulemaking regarding roof strength and window glazing standards, Safety Recommendation H 10-3 is classified OPEN—UNACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.