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NHTSA working on new regulations, including bus seat belts

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently announced plans to finalize several key safety regulations in 2013. One that is garnering widespread attention is a requirement that all new commercial buses be fitted with seat belts.

NHTSA has been considering implementing such a regulation since 1977. Their decision to take action on the rule may have something to do with a rash of serious, even deadly, commercial bus accidents in the past several years.

The requirement will take effect three years after the final rule is published. It will not apply to the 29,000 commercial buses already on the road, however. NHTSA officials said a retroactive rule for all buses might not be financially feasible. But the agency might take that action later.

On average, 19 bus occupants die each year in accidents. Between 1999 and 2008, 54 bus crashed resulted in 186 fatalities.

We know that wearing a seat belt is one of the best things a motorist or passenger can do to minimize the risk of serious injury or death in a car accident. It looks like the same may be true for commercial buses.

The rule is expected to save up to eight lives every year, depending on seat belt usage. According to NHTSA, wearing a lap-shoulder belt during a rollover crash could reduce the passenger's risk of death by 77 percent.

If you or someone you love have been seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident caused by someone else's negligence, consider working with a personal injury attorney. He or she can help you review your claim and pursue any appropriate claims for damages, which may include medical bills, lost wages or pain and suffering.

Source: The Detroit News, "Feds finalizing new rules that include bus seat belts," David Shepardson, Jan. 17, 2013

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