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Seat Belts on Commercial Buses Delayed 45 Years

Scott Monge

In 2009, the safety board said government inaction was partly responsible for the severity of injuries in a rollover crash near Mexican Hat, Utah, which killed 9 skiers and injured 43. Then-Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood promised the department would act to improve motorcoach safety, including requiring seat belts. Last year, when that still hadn't happened, Congress wrapped bus safety improvements into a larger transportation bill, which was signed into law. Regulations requiring seat belts on new buses were due in September, but are still under review by the White House Office of Management and Budget.

Other regulations on windows and roofs are due by Sept. 30, 2014, but safety advocates said they doubt the government will meet that deadline since it is less than a year away and regulations haven't even been proposed, let alone made final.

A spokeswoman for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration didn't reply to an Associated Press request for an explanation of the holdup.

"Consumers have come to expect seat belts in all motor vehicles; the regulator needs to get with the program and establish requirements that are long overdue. This is a simple issue: restraints save lives," NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman told The Associated Press.

The delays are "unacceptable," said Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, co-author of the bus safety provisions. He noted "safety measures like seat belts are neither exotic nor complicated, and they are not new."

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Scott Monge

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