California Bus Crash Underscores Need for Further Federal Regulation, Indiana Personal Injury Attorney Says

Mike Stephenson, a partner with McNeely Stephenson Thopy & Harrold, said today that motorcoaches need safety belt reminder systems to help prevent deaths in bus crashes.
Indiana Personal Injury Lawyer, Mike Stephenson
Indiana Personal Injury Lawyer, Mike Stephenson
INDIANAPOLIS - April 17, 2014 - PRLog -- Ten people lost their lives in the April 10 collision of a FedEx big rig with a motorcoach carrying California high school students to a college visit.  The tour bus, a 2014 model owned by Silverado Stages, was voluntarily equipped with safety belts, according to Mark Rosekind of the National Transportation Safety Board.  Nevertheless, passengers were thrown from the bus and killed.  “[I]t's difficult to issue guidelines to enforce seatbelt use while they aren't mandated,” Rosekind told U.S. News and World Report.

The Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act of 2012 requires the Secretary of Transportation to develop new regulations concerning occupant safety equipment and crash worthiness of motorcoaches.  So far only one such regulation has been issued – that requiring shoulder/lap belts in all new over-the-road buses and in new buses other than over-the-road buses weighing more than 26,000 pounds, effective in 2016.

“When the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued the final rule this past November which would mandate safety belts on motorcoaches beginning in 2016, they omitted one very important feature,” said Mike Stephenson, an Indiana bus accident lawyer.  “Even though NHTSA received comments from groups like the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and the United Motorcoach Association urging them to require some form of seat belt reminder system, they declined to do so,” said Stephenson.

The regulators noted in their final rule that “seat belt use rates could be low at first . . . [but] we also believe passengers’ attitudes about using seat belts can change.”

“Airlines don’t leave it up to passengers to decide whether or not to wear a seat belt.  Automakers are required to install seat belt reminder systems.  Why aren’t bus passengers given that same level of protection?” Stephenson questioned.  “In this case, I hope the final rule isn’t the final rule,” he said.


Mike Stephenson, a partner with McNeely Stephenson Thopy & Harrold of Shelbyville, Indiana, near Indianapolis, has been successfully representing victims of motor vehicle accidents since 1981.  He can be reached at 1-855-206-2555.

Mike Stephenson

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