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Motorcoach Safety Enhancement Act of 2009
Bills: HR 1396 and S 554
IMPORTANT UPDATE: January 21, 2010:
The Senate mark-up of S. 554 changed the definition of "Commercial Motor Vehicle" that appears to limit the requirement for CDL's to commercial motor vehicles that transport 16 passengers or more, including the driver, across state lines. Therefore, as currently written, the new Senate version of the Motor Coach Enhanced Safety Act, would not require CDL's for 9 to 15 passenger vans.
Legislation has been introduced in both the House of Representatives (HR 1396) and the Senate (S 554) that is designed to require changes to motorcoach buses. This legislation was motivated by a bus crash that killed seven people. On March 2, 2007, a motorcoach carrying 33 members of the Bluffton University baseball team from Ohio to a tournament in Florida overroad a bridge wall on a Georgia interstate and fell 19 feet. Five members of the team, the driver and his wife were killed. Seven others received serious injuries and 21 received minor injuries. A subsequent National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation found the driver most likely mistook an interstate High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV)-only left exit ramp for an HOV through lane. Inadequate traffic control devices and the lack of adequate occupant protection contributed to the crash and its severity, reported the NTSB.
Senator Sherrod Brown (Ohio) and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas) have co-sponsored the Senate bill which is designed to required new safety measures for charter buses and passengers buses that travel from state to state. These measures include seat belts, better design to prevent passengers from being thrown out of the bus in a crash, stronger bus roofs and better training for drivers. They believe the proposed legislation would lead to a reduction in motorcoach bus accident deaths and injuries.
There is a competing bill in the House that proposes a different approach to the issue of motorcoach safety sponsored by Rep. Bill Schuster (Penn.) (HR 1135). This bill would require the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to perform a study to determine what motorcoach safety requirements should be improved within the next three years. After finishing the study, the Department of Transportation would be required to prescribe standards for occupant protection that accounts for frontal, side and rear collisions, as well as rollovers, and provide standards for the same items the Sherrod-Hutchinson bill requires.
Why Does This Impact the Camp Community?
The safety of campers and staff is the number one priority of every camp. It is important that you understand the implications these bills might have on your camp operation. While designed for the motorcoach industry, there is language that potentially will apply to camps. Including: