WASHINGTON, Aug. 16 (UPI) -- The U.S. government proposed a regulation Monday that would require all new motor coaches to be equipped with lap-shoulder seat belts.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will decide whether to make the proposed regulation permanent after a 90-day public comment period, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Monday. After NHTSA approval, manufacturers would get three years to comply.
"Seat belts save lives, and putting them in motor coaches just makes sense," LaHood said.
The new rule would apply to motor coaches, including those used for intercity travel, not school or transit buses.
U.S. motor coaches carry 750 million passengers annually and from 1999-2008, an average of 16 deaths have occurred each year in U.S. motor coach accidents, the Transportation Department said. Seat belts would have prevented ejections and many of those deaths, the department said in its proposal, which came in response to National Transportation Safety Board recommendations.
"While motor coach transportation overall is safe, given the high-occupancy of motor coaches, when serious crashes do occur of this vehicle type, they can cause a significant number of fatal or serious injuries during a single event, particularly when occupants are ejected," the proposal stated.