Statistically speaking, private commercial buses provide one of the safest methods of transportation in Florida. As recent crashes clearly show, however, statistics do very little to help the victims of the bus crashes that inevitably do occur.
Perhaps as a result of the recent fatal bus accidents that claimed far too many lives last year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is pushing ahead with new safety rules for commercial bus companies.
The most important new rule will likely require bus companies to begin installing seat belts in all charter coaches. This will hopefully bring some closure to a long-running cost-benefit debate over seat belt safety. Experts estimate that the rule will cost about $13,000 per bus - totaling $25 million per year for the entire industry. On the benefit side, the NHTSA believes that this investment will save up to eight passengers from fatal accidents every year.
Of course, seat belts cannot protect passengers from all injuries. The recent bus crash at Miami International Airport is a tragic example: a tired driver missed several clear warning signs and crashed into a low overhang, killing several passengers.
The NHTSA is also considering several other rules, including measures "to improve bus rollover structural integrity, emergency evacuation and fire safety." These rules will take some time to have an impact on bus safety. While the NHTSA hopes to finalize them before the end of 2013, they will not become mandatory for another three years.
Source: Detroit News, "Feds finalizing new rules that include bus seat belts," David Shepardson, Jan. 17, 2013