(WJLA) - The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Wednesday issued a final rule requiring lap and shoulder seat belts on new motor coaches and other large buses.
The new rule aims to significantly reduce the risk of fatalities and serious injuries in frontal crashes and rollovers.
"Safety is our highest priority and we are committed to reducing the number of deaths and injuries on our roadways," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.
On average, 21 motor coach and large bus passengers are killed and nearly 8,000 are injured annually in crashes, according to NHTSA data. Seat belts could reduce fatalities by up to 44 percent and reduce the number of moderate to severe injuries by up to 45 percent.
Travel on motor coaches is overall a safe form of transportation, but there is a potential for more deaths and serious injuries because of the number of occupants and high speeds at which the vehicles travel.
The rule applies to new over-the-road buses and to other buses weighing more than 26,000 pounds, except transit buses and school buses.
Beginning in November 2016, newly manufactured buses will be required to have lap and shoulder belts for each driver and passenger seat. Several companies have already begun voluntarily purchasing buses with seat belts.