A new Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) proposed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) aims to improve the structural design of large buses to “better protect” passengers when such vehicles crash and roll over.

NHTSA said the new standard would afford such protection by “by ensuring that the space around passengers remains sufficiently intact and the emergency exits remain operable” after a rollover.

The agency has also announced that, in a separate rulemaking action, it is “planning on finalizing requirements later this year for stability-control technologies in these vehicles, which would help prevent rollovers from occurring.”

Per the proposed FMVSS rulemaking, every new motor coach and “large bus” would have to meet specific performance requirements. This would be determined by passing a “dynamic test in which the bus is tipped over from a raised platform onto a hard level surface.”

NHTSA said the proposed standard would:

  • Require space around occupant seating positions to be maintained to afford occupants a survivable space in a crash
  • Require the seats, overhead luggage racks and window glazing to remain attached to their mountings during and after the test
  • Require emergency exits to remain closed during the rollover test and operable after the test

The agency pointed out that both the proposed test procedure and the performance requirements were “closely modeled” after European regulations for large buses.

NHTSA noted it is proposing a compliance date of three years after publication of a final rule on the new FMVSS.