Even those of us who fly only occasionally are familiar with the safety
instructions given by flight attendants before take off. Why don't
we get similar safety instructions in motorcoaches, like Greyhound or
buses that take us on school or charter trips? Why aren't buses required
to have safety lighting that would enable you to find the exit in case
of an emergency? Whey are there no seat belts in buses? Are buses outfitted
with emergency exits and, if so, where are they and how do you operate them?
The federal National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not shown
clear leadership in this area. In 2014 the NHTSA promulgated new safety
rules for motorcoaches, but it was limited to structrual design requirements
to protect passengers in the event of a rollover accident. There are no
NHTSA guidelines that require safety instructions, emergency lighting,
seatbelts, emergency exits, etc.
Tragically, however, after a number of horrific bus accidents, the California
Assembly has been spurred to take some action. A bill recently passed
by the Assembly would require motorcoaches manufactured after 2020 to
include some new safety features such as emergency lighting and to mandate
safety instructions be given to passengers. The requirement for emergency
exits was nixed by transportation industry lobbyists as too expensive
(tell that to the families of bus accident victitms, like those high school
students who died of smoke inhalation at the back of a bus that burst
into flames after being struck by a FedEx truck in Los Angeles area in 2014).