From crashes to enforcement operations, reports indicate there is plenty of room for improvement in ensuring bus operators transport passengers in a safe manner. This industry has always hung its hat on the premise it is the safest form of ground transportation. However, in the mind of the public consumer, events over the past year have assaulted the reputation of motorcoach operators. Well-documented and publicized incidents coupled with the lesser-known and surprisingly high rate of vehicles and drivers placed out-of-service during enforcement blitzes erode the public trust and lend to an adversarial environment for enforcement.
My last column [BUSRide, January-February 2010, Risk Management] focused on the decision many operators could soon face with regard to retrofitting seatbelts to the existing fleet. Such a decision will ultimately come down to several factors that include cost, restraint capabilities, customer demand and risk.
Last year it became clear that the government would issue a seatbelt mandate for new motorcoaches. This would not come as a complete surprise to the industry given recent high profile fatal accidents involving ejections, and especially the motorcoach-specific crash testing NHTSA has conducted on the effectiveness of passenger restraints.