Motorcoach travel is a very safe mode of highway transportation in the United States, transporting 750 million passengers per year. Despite this,over the past 10 years, motorcoach crashes have resulted in an average of 19 motorcoach occupant fatalities per year. Additional fatalities result each year among the pedestrians, drivers, and passengers of other vehicles involved in these crashes. Each of these fatalities is a tragedy that the Department strives to prevent. The transportation of passengers is the highest safety priority in the Department, requiring added vigilance.
On April 30, 2009, Secretary Ray LaHood directed the heads of the agencies with responsibility for highway, vehicle, and transit safety within the Department of Transportation to develop an integrated Motorcoach Safety Action Plan. The Secretary directed the agencies to take a fresh look at motorcoach safety issues, identify actions to address outstanding safety problems, and develop an aggressive multi-agency schedule to implement those actions.
Based on analysis of the safety data, the Department assessed causes and contributing factors for motorcoach crashes, fatalities, and injuries, and identified opportunities to enhance motorcoach safety. As described in this action plan, DOT will pursue an integrated strategy addressing a range of issues.
These include driver errors resulting from fatigue, distraction, medical condition, and experience; crash avoidance technologies; vehicle maintenance and safety; carrier compliance; and measures to protect occupants in the event of a crash such as seat belts, roof strength, fire safety, and emergency egress. DOT expects this strategy to result in a reduction in the number of motorcoach crashes and fatalities and injuries resulting from those crashes.
The data show that driver fatigue, vehicle rollover, occupant ejection, and operator maintenance issues contribute to the majority of motorcoach crashes, fatalities, and injuries. From this, DOT has identified seven priority action items that will have the greatest impact on reducing motorcoach crashes, fatalities, and injuries. The priority action items are:
- Initiate rulemaking to require electronic on-board recording devices on all motorcoaches to better monitor drivers’ duty hours and manage fatigue.
- Initiate rulemaking to propose prohibiting texting and limiting the use of cellular telephones and other devices by motorcoach drivers.
- Initiate rulemaking to require the installation of seat belts on motorcoaches to improve occupant protection.
- Evaluate and develop roof crush performance requirements to enhance structural integrity.
- Develop performance requirements and assess the safety benefits for stability control systems on motorcoaches to reduce rollover events.
- Enhance oversight of carriers attempting to evade sanctions and of other unsafe motorcoach companies.
- Establish minimum knowledge requirements for people applying for authority to transport passengers.
This document has a complete list of the motorcoach safety action items, with target dates. The above priority items are included and shown in bold.