[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 227 (Monday, November 25, 2013)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 70415-70474]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-28211]



[[Page 70415]]

Vol. 78

Monday,

No. 227

November 25, 2013

Part II





 Department of Transportation





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National Highway Traffic Safety Administration





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49 CFR Part 571





 Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; Occupant Crash Protection; 
Final Rule

Federal Register / Vol. 78 , No. 227 / Monday, November 25, 2013 / 
Rules and Regulations

[[Page 70416]]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

49 CFR Part 571

[Docket No. NHTSA-2013-0121]
RIN 2127-AK56


Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; Occupant Crash Protection

AGENCY: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 
Department of Transportation (DOT).

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: Completing the first initiative of NHTSA's 2007 ``NHTSA's 
Approach to Motorcoach Safety'' plan and one of the principal 
undertakings of DOT's 2009 Motorcoach Safety Action Plan, and 
fulfilling a statutory mandate of the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act of 
2012, incorporated into the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st 
Century Act, this final rule amends the Federal motor vehicle safety 
standard (FMVSS) on occupant crash protection to require lap/shoulder 
seat belts for each passenger seating position in all new over-the-road 
buses, and in new buses other than over-the-road buses with a gross 
vehicle weight rating (GVWR) greater than 11,793 kilograms (kg) (26,000 
pounds (lb), with certain exclusions. By requiring the passenger lap/
shoulder seat belts, this final rule significantly reduces the risk of 
fatality and serious injury in frontal crashes and the risk of occupant 
ejection in rollovers, thus considerably enhancing the safety of these 
vehicles.

DATES: The effective date of this final rule is November 28, 2016. 
Optional early compliance is permitted.
    Petitions for reconsideration: Petitions for reconsideration of 
this final rule must be received not later than January 9, 2014.

ADDRESSES: Petitions for reconsideration of this final rule must refer 
to the docket and notice number set forth above and be submitted to the 
Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 1200 New 
Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For non-legal issues, you may contact 
Lawrence Valvo or Louis Molino, NHTSA Office of Crashworthiness 
Standards, telephone 202-366-1740, fax 202-493-2739. For legal issues: 
Deirdre Fujita, NHTSA Office of Chief Counsel, telephone 202-366-2992, 
fax 202-366-3820. The mailing address for these officials is: National 
Highway Traffic Safety Administration, U.S. Department of 
Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., West Building, Washington, 
DC 20590.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Completing the first initiative of NHTSA's 
2007 ``NHTSA's Approach to Motorcoach Safety'' plan and one of the 
principal undertakings of DOT's 2009 Motorcoach Safety Action Plan, and 
fulfilling a statutory mandate of the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act of 
2012, incorporated into the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st 
Century Act, this final rule amends the Federal motor vehicle safety 
standard (FMVSS) on occupant crash protection to require lap/shoulder 
seat belts for each passenger seating position in: (a) All new over-
the-road buses; and (b) in new buses other than over-the-road buses, 
with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) greater than 11,793 kilograms 
(kg) (26,000 pounds (lb)).\1\ The notice of proposed rulemaking 
preceding this final rule called buses with GVWR greater than 11,793 kg 
(26,000 lb) ``motorcoaches.'' Although transportation by these buses 
overall is a safe form of transportation in the U.S., several bus 
crashes in recent years have illustrated that crashes of these vehicles 
can cause a significant number of fatal or serious injuries in a single 
event, due in part to the high occupancy rate of the vehicles, the 
speed at which they travel, and occupant ejection in rollovers. NHTSA's 
safety research on seat belts in large buses (greater than 11,793 kg 
(26,000 lb) GVWR) completed in 2009, shows that the installation of 
lap/shoulder belts on the vehicles is practicable and effective and 
could reduce the risk of fatal injuries in rollover crashes by 77 
percent, primarily by preventing occupant ejection. Lap/shoulder belts 
are also highly effective in preventing fatalities and serious injuries 
in frontal crashes, and will enhance protection in side crashes in the 
affected buses. By requiring passenger lap/shoulder seat belts on (a) 
new over-the-road buses, and (b) new buses, other than over the road 
buses, with a GVWR greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb), this final rule 
significantly reduces the risk of fatality and serious injury in 
frontal crashes and the risk of occupant ejection in rollovers, thus 
considerably enhancing the safety of these vehicles.
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    \1\ Some buses are excluded from this latter category, such as 
transit and school buses.
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Table of Contents

I. Executive Summary
II. NHTSA's Statutory Authority
    a. National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act
    b. Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act of 2012
    c. Agency Views
III. Background
    a. The Agency's 2007 ``NHTSA's Approach to Motorcoach Safety'' 
Plan
    b. DOT's 2009 Task Force Action Plan
    c. NTSB Recommendations
    d. Congressional Mandate
IV. Safety Need
    a. Introduction
    b. FARS Data
    c. Updated FARS Data
V. Summary of the NPRM
VI. Overview of the Comments
VII. Differences Between the Final Rule and the NPRM
VIII. Motorcoach Definition
    a. GVWR
    1. Response to Comments On Looking Like A Traditional Motorcoach
    2. On Lowering the GVWR Criterion
    b. Sixteen Designated Seating Positions
    c. At Least 2 Rows of Forward-Facing Seats Rearward of the 
Driver's Seat
    d. Treatment of Various Bus Types and Configurations Under the 
Final Rule
    1. Shuttle Buses
    2. Trolley and Double-Decker Sightseeing Buses
    3. Limousine and Entertainment Buses, Buses With Multiple 
Wheelchair Positions
    4. Military Ambulances
    5. Prison Buses
    e. Transit Buses
    f. School Buses
    g. Agency Observations
IX. Requiring Seat Belts at Passenger Seating Positions
X. Type of Belt System on Forward-Facing Seats
XI. Integrated Anchorages
XII. Seat Belt Adjustment, Fit, Lockability, and Other Requirements
XIII. Passenger Seats That Are Not Forward-Facing
XIV. Driver's Seat
XV. Seat Belt Signage and Other Reminders
XVI. Strength Requirements
XVII. Lead Time
XVIII. On Retrofitting Used Buses
XIX. Regulatory Alternatives
XX. Overview of Costs and Benefits
XXI. Rulemaking Analyses and Notices

I. Executive Summary

    One of the guiding principles NHTSA considers in determining the 
priorities of our rulemaking projects is to protect the public against 
unreasonable risk of death or injury in high-occupancy vehicles. In 
2007, NHTSA published a comprehensive plan to research improvements to 
bus safety, entitled, ``NHTSA's Approach to Motorcoach Safety.'' \2\ In 
the plan, the term ``motorcoach'' referred to intercity transport 
buses. This plan was developed in direct response to several National 
Transportation Safety Board

[[Page 70417]]

(NTSB) recommendations and also to address several crashes that 
occurred since the recommendations were issued. NHTSA's plan identified 
as our highest priorities four specific areas where we can most 
effectively address open NTSB recommendations in the near-term, and 
also improve the safety of the buses most expeditiously. The four 
priority areas were: (1) Passenger ejection; (2) rollover structural 
integrity; (3) emergency egress; and (4) fire safety.\3\
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    \2\ http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=NHTSA-2007-
28793-0001. See Docket No. NHTSA-2007-28793.
    \3\ In 2009, DOT issued a Departmental Motorcoach Safety Action 
Plan, which is described later in this preamble. Today's final rule 
completes one of the principal rulemakings included in the DOT plan 
to enhance motorcoach safety. http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/documents/safety-security/MotorcoachSafetyActionPlan_finalreport-508.pdf
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    This final rule addresses the first priority area of the NHTSA 
plan, to minimize intercity bus passenger and driver ejection by 
requiring the installation of seat belts for all occupants of: (a) New 
over-the-road buses; \4\ and (b) new buses, other than over-the-road 
buses, with a GVWR greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb).\5\ The notice of 
proposed rulemaking (NPRM) preceding this final rule, published on 
August 18, 2010 (75 FR 50958), proposed to call buses with a GVWR 
greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb) ``motorcoaches,'' and proposed to 
apply seat belt requirements to those vehicles.
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    \4\ An over-the-road bus is a bus characterized by an elevated 
passenger deck located over a baggage compartment. See section 
3038(a)(3) of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, 
cited in section 32702(6) of Subtitle G, the Motorcoach Enhanced 
Safety Act, of MAP-21.
    \5\ Certain bus types are excepted.
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    This final rule fulfills a statutory mandate on motorcoach safety 
set forth in the ``Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act'' 
(MAP-21), On July 6, 2012, President Obama signed MAP-21, which 
incorporated the ``Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act of 2012'' (Motorcoach 
Enhanced Safety Act) in Subtitle G. Among other matters, the Motorcoach 
Enhanced Safety Act requires DOT to ``prescribe regulations requiring 
safety belts to be installed in motorcoaches \6\ at each designated 
seating position'' not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of 
the Act. We have completed this final rule in furtherance of NHTSA's 
goal to enhance the safety of all heavy buses used in intercity bus 
transportation, while attending to the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act's 
focus on over-the-road buses.
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    \6\ Under the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act, ``motorcoach'' 
means an over-the-road bus, but does not include a bus used in 
public transportation provided by, or on behalf of, a public 
transportation agency, or a school bus.
    [Footnote added.]
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    This final rule is based on scientific data from an extensive test 
program completed in 2009 at NHTSA's Vehicle Research and Test Center 
(VRTC). The program began with a full-scale frontal 48 kilometers per 
hour (km/h) (30 miles per hour (mph)) barrier crash test of a 54-
passenger over-the-road bus. The testing involved instrumented test 
dummies representing 50th percentile adult males, 5th percentile adult 
females, and 95th percentile adult males in belted and unbelted seating 
configurations. The weight of the bus as tested (including test dummies 
and equipment) was 19,377 kg (42,720 lb), which was less than the GVWR 
of the bus (~24,500 kg (54,000 lb)).\7\ In the crash test, NHTSA 
analyzed the head accelerations (head injury criterion, (HIC)), neck 
injury (Nij) values, and other injury criteria measured by the test 
dummies, the kinematics of the dummies during the crash, and the 
structural integrity of the seats, floor and bus. Follow-on sled 
testing was also conducted to evaluate the performance of seat belt 
systems on motorcoach seats under a range of belted and unbelted 
conditions, and to evaluate seat anchorage strength testing.
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    \7\ GVWR means the value specified by the manufacturer as the 
loaded weight of a single vehicle (49 CFR 571.3). Under NHTSA's 
certification regulation (49 CFR Part 567), the GVWR ``shall not be 
less than the sum of the unloaded vehicle weight, rated cargo load, 
and 150 pounds times the number of the vehicle's designated seating 
positions. However, for school buses the minimum occupant weight 
allowance shall be 120 pounds per passenger and 150 pounds for the 
driver.''
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    Transportation by buses with a GVWR greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 
lb) overall is a safe form of transportation. Data from NHTSA's Fatal 
Analysis Reporting System (FARS) shows that over the 10-year period 
between 2000 and 2009, there were 87 fatal crashes of buses covered by 
this final rule, resulting in 209 fatalities.\8\ During this period, on 
average, 21 fatalities have occurred annually to occupants of these 
buses in crash and rollover events, with about 4 of these fatalities 
being drivers and 17 being passengers. However, while transportation on 
these buses is safe overall, given the typical high occupancy of the 
subject buses and the intercity operation of many of them at high 
speeds, when serious crashes do occur, a significant number of fatal or 
serious injuries can result, particularly when occupants are ejected.
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    \8\ These data have been updated from the NPRM.
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    A primary goal of this rulemaking is to reduce occupant ejections 
occurring in crashes of buses the NPRM identified as ``motorcoaches,'' 
i.e., buses with a GVWR greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb). Data from 
2000-2009 FARS show that most fatal crashes of large buses involve 
buses with a GVWR greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb) and most of the 
fatal crashes involving these buses (55 percent) are rollover crashes. 
Ejections account for 66 percent of the fatalities in rollover crashes 
of these buses, 20 percent of the fatalities in non-rollover crashes 
and 45 percent of all fatalities. The risk of ejection can be reduced 
by seat belts, a simple and effective countermeasure. Seat belts are 
estimated to be 77 percent effective \9\ in preventing fatal injuries 
in rollover crashes, primarily by preventing ejection.\10\
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    \9\ Estimated based on Kahane, ``Fatality Reduction by Safety 
Belts for Front-Seat Occupants of Cars and Light Trucks,'' December 
2000, Washington, DC, National Highway Traffic Safety 
Administration.
    \10\ We estimate that even at a minimum seat belt usage rate of 
only 6 percent, the rule will remain cost effective for the bus 
passengers.
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    Another important goal is to improve passenger crash protection of 
the buses in crashes generally, particularly frontal crashes. Frontal 
crashes account for 42 percent of the fatalities involving buses with a 
GVWR greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb). Lap/shoulder \11\ belts are 
estimated to be 29 percent effective in preventing fatal injuries in 
frontal crashes of the subject buses.\12\ The ability of the belts to 
improve the passenger crash protection of heavy buses was demonstrated 
in our test program, which found that lap/shoulder belts prevented 
critical head and neck injury values from being exceeded for belted 
test dummies. (In contrast, unbelted test dummies and test dummies in 
lap-only belts measured head and neck injury values surpassing critical 
thresholds.) We also estimate lap/shoulder belts to be 42 percent 
effective in preventing side fatalities.\13\
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    \11\ FMVSS No. 209, an equipment standard, currently applies to 
all seat belt assemblies installed in buses. FMVSS No. 209 uses the 
term ``Type 2 seat belt assembly'' to refer to a lap/shoulder belt 
system. As defined in that standard, a Type 2 seat belt assembly is 
``a combination of pelvic and upper torso restraints.'' In this 
preamble, we use the term ``lap/shoulder'' belt system rather than 
``Type 2 seat belt assembly'' for plain language purposes. Documents 
may occasionally refer to lap/shoulder belts as 3-point belts. Under 
FMVSS No. 209, a ``Type 1'' seat belt assembly is ``a lap belt for 
pelvic restraint.'' This preamble refers to Type 1 belts as ``lap-
only belts.''
    \12\ This is discussed in NHTSA's Final Regulatory Impact 
Analysis (FRIA) that discusses issues relating to the estimated 
costs, benefits and other impacts of this regulatory action. The 
FRIA is available in the docket for this final rule and may be 
obtained by downloading it or by contacting Docket Management at the 
address or telephone number provided at the beginning of this 
document.)
    \13\ Estimated based on Morgan, ``Effectiveness of Lap/Shoulder 
Belts in the Back Outboard Seating Positions,'' June 1999, 
Washington, DC, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. See 
FRIA.

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[[Page 70418]]

    Accordingly, to reduce the likelihood of occupant ejection and to 
improve occupant protection in all crashes, particularly frontal 
crashes, this final rule amends FMVSS No. 208, ``Occupant crash 
protection'' (49 CFR 571.208), under NHTSA's rulemaking authority set 
forth in the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act (``Vehicle 
Safety Act'') (49 U.S.C. 30101 et seq.) and the Motorcoach Enhanced 
Safety Act. The standard is amended to:
     Require a lap/shoulder belt at all designated seating 
positions on all over-the-road buses,\14\ including over-the-road buses 
used in public transportation,\15\ but excluding school buses.
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    \14\ There is no lower GVWR bound on the definition of over-the-
road bus used in the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act and none adopted 
by this final rule for such buses. Nonetheless, as a practical 
matter, NHTSA is not aware of any bus meeting the over-the-road bus 
definition with a GVWR of less than 4,536 kg (10,000 lb).
    \15\ We are mindful that the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act 
excludes a bus used in public transportation provided by, or on 
behalf of, a public transportation agency from the meaning of 
``motorcoach.'' However, as discussed in the NPRM and in this final 
rule, we are applying the final rule to over-the-road buses used for 
public transportation based on determinations we have made pursuant 
to NHTSA's Vehicle Safety Act authority, 49 U.S.C. 30111, which has 
existed and continues to exist prior to and separate from the 
Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act provisions.
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     For buses other than over-the-road buses, this final rule 
requires a lap/shoulder belt at all passenger seating positions on new 
buses with a GVWR greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb), except for 
certain excluded bus types.\16\ (For buses other than over-the-road 
buses, we permit side-facing seats to be equipped with a lap belt, for 
reasons discussed later in this document.)
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    \16\ The exceptions are transit buses, school buses, ``prison 
buses'' (buses manufactured for the purpose of transporting persons 
subject to involuntary restraint or confinement), and ``perimeter-
seating buses'' (which the NPRM had referred to as buses with fewer 
than two rows of forward-facing seats. As explained in a later 
section of this preamble, we have decided it would be simpler to 
define a perimeter-seating bus by reference to the number of 
forward-facing seats it has than the number of rows it has. Note 
that, as a result of the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act, only buses 
other than over-the-road buses (which we sometimes refer to as 
``non-over-the-road buses'') can be included in this excepted 
category of a perimeter-seating bus.
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     Require a lap/shoulder belt at the driver's seating 
position on subject buses.\17\
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    \17\ The buses are all over-the-road buses, and non-over-the 
road buses with a GVWR greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb), except 
transit buses and perimeter-seating buses. This final rule also 
requires a lap/shoulder belt at the driver's seating position on 
school buses with a GVWR greater than 4,536 kg (10,000 lb).
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     Require the lap/shoulder belt system for passenger seats 
to meet provisions for seat belt adjustment and fit, so that the seat 
belts can accommodate children as well as large (95th-percentile) adult 
males, be lockable for use with a child restraint system, and be 
releasable at a single point and by a pushbutton action.
     Require the seat belt anchorages, both torso and lap, on 
passenger seats to be integrated into the seat structure, so as not to 
impede emergency egress.
    The ``performance requirement'' for the lap/shoulder seat belts is 
the FMVSS No. 210 strength requirement, measured in a static ``pull'' 
test. The seat belt assembly anchorages must meet the following FMVSS 
No. 210 requirement:
     Withstand a force of 13,345 Newtons (N) (3,000 lb) applied 
to the lap portion and a force of 13,345 N (3,000 lb) applied 
simultaneously to the torso portion of the seat belt assembly.
    This final rule does not adopt a ``motorcoach'' definition. 
Comments responding to the NPRM expressed some confusion and 
disagreement over attaching the name of ``motorcoach'' to buses that 
may not have been widely thought of as motorcoaches in the past. In 
addition, the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act uses the term 
``motorcoach'' differently than the NPRM. After considering these 
factors, we have determined that it is unnecessary to define the term 
``motorcoach'' to accomplish the objective of this rulemaking. To avoid 
potential confusion over use of the term, and since the term is 
unnecessary, we have decided not to use the term ``motorcoach'' to 
describe the applicability of the lap/shoulder seat belt requirements. 
Instead, we have decided to simply amend FMVSS No. 208 such that the 
provisions of FMVSS Nos. 208 and 210 relevant to lap/shoulder belt and 
anchorages, respectively, are applied to (a) all over-the-road buses, 
and to (b) non-over-the-road buses with a GVWR greater than 11,793 kg 
(26,000 lb), excepting the few bus types.
    We estimate that installing lap/shoulder seat belts on new subject 
buses will save approximately 1.7 to 9.2 lives and prevent 146 to 858 
injuries per year (3.46-25.17 equivalent lives), depending on the usage 
of lap/shoulder belts in the buses (see Table 1 below).\18\ The cost of 
installing lap/shoulder belts on new buses is estimated as follows (see 
Table 2 below). The incremental cost of adding a shoulder belt to the 
already required lap belt for drivers is estimated to be $18.86. With 
about 60 percent of the driver seating positions already equipped with 
lap/shoulder belts, the average bus cost will increase by $7.54. For 
the driver position, the total cost to the fleet of adding a shoulder 
belt to the driver seat for 40 percent of covered buses will add an 
additional $16,597 ($18.86 x 2,200 x .4).
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    \18\ See FRIA for this final rule. The FRIA assumes that the 
seat belt use rate on buses regulated by today's rule will be 
between 15 percent and the percent use in passenger vehicles, which 
was 83 percent in 2008. These annual benefits accrue when all 
subject buses in the fleet have lap/shoulder belts.
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    The incremental cost of adding lap/shoulder belts and to change the 
seat anchorages for a two passenger seat is $78.14 or $39.07 per 
seating position. On a 54-passenger bus the cost for the passenger 
seats is $2,110 ($39.07 x 54). The total cost of adding lap/shoulder 
belts to all new 54-passenger buses is about $4.4 million ($2,110 x 
2,100). The cutaway buses have seats for an average of 45 passengers. 
The incremental cost of adding lap/shoulder belts on a 45-passenger 
cutaway bus with two passengers per seat is $1,758 ($39.07 x 45). The 
total cost of adding passenger lap/shoulder belts to all new cutaway 
covered buses is about $0.2 million ($1,758.15 x 100). Thus, the total 
cost for all covered bus passenger positions is about $4.6 million. The 
total cost of adding lap/shoulder belts for passengers and shoulder 
belts to 40 percent of the driver's seats is $4.6 million ($4,606,353 + 
$25,238).
    The agency has also estimated increased costs in fuel usage. The 
increased fuel costs depend on added weight (estimated to be 161 lb 
\19\) and the discount rate used. NHTSA estimates the increased costs 
in fuel usage for added weight and discounts the additional fuel used 
over the lifetime of the bus using a 3 percent and 7 percent discount 
rate. See the FRIA for more details.
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    \19\ See FRIA for this final rule. This estimate is based on 
results from a NHTSA contractor conducting cost/weight teardown 
studies of motorcoach seats. The weight added by lap/shoulder belts 
was 5.96 per 2-person seat. This is the weight only of the seat belt 
assembly itself and does not include changing the design of the 
seat, reinforcing the floor, walls or other areas of the motorcoach.
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    The cost per equivalent life saved is estimated to be $0.3 million 
to $1.8 million (see Table 3 below). Annualized costs and benefits are 
provided in Table 4.

                       Table 1--Estimated Benefits
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------------------------------------------------------------------------
Fatalities.................................  1.7 to 9.2.
AIS 1 injuries (Minor).....................  89 to 536.
AIS 2-5 (Moderate to Severe)...............  57 to 322.
                                            ----------------------------
  Total Non-fatal Injuries.................  146 to 858.
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[[Page 70419]]


                        Table 2--Estimated Costs
                            [2008 Economics]
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                    Per         Total
                                                  average       fleet
                                                  vehicle    ($millions)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Bus Driver....................................        $7.54        $0.02
Bus Passenger.................................     2,094            4.6
Fuel Costs @3%................................     1,077            2.4
Fuel Costs @7%................................       794            1.7
New Vehicle and Fuel Costs
  @3%.........................................     3,178            7.0
  @7%.........................................     2,895            6.4
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                 Table 3--Cost per Equivalent Life Saved
------------------------------------------------------------------------
   Cost per equivalent life saved
------------------------------------------------------------------------
50% Belt use for drivers and 15%      $1.5 to $1.8 mill.
 Belt usage for passengers.
83% Belt usage for drivers and        $0.3 to $0.43 mill.
 passengers.
Breakeven Point in passenger belt     4 to 5%.
 usage.
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                                     Table 4--Annualized Costs and Benefits
                                         [In millions of $2008 Dollars]
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                                  Annualized costs       Annualized benefits                Net benefits
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
3% Discount Rate...............               $7.0  $28.5--158.6.................  $21.5 to 151.6.
7% Discount Rate...............               $6.4  $21.8--121.1.................  $15.4 to 114.7.
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    We have assessed the feasibility, benefits, and costs with respect 
to the application of the seat belt requirements to buses manufactured 
before the date on which this final rule applies to new vehicles. Based 
on that assessment, we have decided not to require retrofitting of used 
buses with seat belts. To learn more about retrofitting, the NPRM 
requested comment on issues concerning the structural viability of used 
buses to accommodate seat belts and the crash forces from belted 
passengers, the reinforcement needed to the bus structure to 
accommodate the loads, and the cost of retrofitting. Our hypothesis at 
the time of the NPRM was that the cost of and engineering expertise 
needed for a retrofitting operation would be beyond the means of bus 
owners (for-hire operators), many of which are small businesses.\20\ 
The comments on the retrofit issue supported a finding that the impacts 
would be unreasonable. After considering the low likelihood that a 
retrofit requirement would be technically practicable at a reasonable 
cost, the cost impacts on small businesses, and the low benefits that 
would accrue from a retrofit requirement we have decided not to pursue 
a retrofit requirement for seat belts. (See FRIA discussion of cost/
benefit of retrofit).
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    \20\ The agency estimated in the NPRM that the service life of a 
motorcoach can be 20 years or longer. We estimated that the cost of 
retrofitting can vary substantially. To retrofit a vehicle with lap 
belts, we estimated it could cost between $6,000 (assuming that the 
motorcoach structure is lap belt-ready, and can accommodate the 
loads set forth in the NPRM) to $34,000 per vehicle to retrofit the 
vehicle with the lap belts and with sufficient structure to meet the 
NPRM's requirements. To retrofit it with lap/shoulder belts and 
reinforced structure so as to meet FMVSS No. 210 to support the 
loads during a crash, we estimated it could cost $40,000 per 
vehicle. The existing fleet size was estimated to be 29,325 
motorcoaches. Hence, the fleet cost of retrofitting lap belts was 
estimated to range from $175,950,000 ($6,000 x 29,325) to 
$997,050,000 ($34,000 x 29,325), while the fleet cost of 
retrofitting lap/shoulder belts was estimated to be $1,173,000,000 
($40,000 x 29,325). These costs did not include increased remaining 
lifetime fuel costs incurred by adding structural weight to the 
motorcoach. Later in the analysis we examine a range of costs and 
include the lifetime fuel costs for the weight of the belts 
themselves. Weight would vary depending upon the needed structural 
changes, and lifetime fuel cost would vary depending upon the age of 
motorcoaches that would be retrofitted.
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II. NHTSA's Statutory Authority

a. National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act

    This final rule is issued under the National Traffic and Motor 
Vehicle Safety Act (``Vehicle Safety Act'') (49 U.S.C. 30101 et seq.). 
Under the Vehicle Safety Act, the Secretary of Transportation is 
responsible for prescribing motor vehicle safety standards that are 
practicable, meet the need for motor vehicle safety, and are stated in 
objective terms.\21\ ``Motor vehicle safety'' is defined in the Vehicle 
Safety Act as ``the performance of a motor vehicle or motor vehicle 
equipment in a way that protects the public against unreasonable risk 
of accidents occurring because of the design, construction, or 
performance of a motor vehicle, and against unreasonable risk of death 
or injury in an accident, and includes nonoperational safety of a motor 
vehicle.'' \22\ ``Motor vehicle safety standard'' means a minimum 
performance standard for motor vehicles or motor vehicle equipment.\23\ 
When prescribing such standards, the Secretary must consider all 
relevant, available motor vehicle safety information, and consider 
whether a standard is reasonable, practicable, and appropriate for the 
types of motor vehicles or motor vehicle equipment for which it is 
prescribed.\24\ The Secretary must also consider the extent to which 
the standard will further the statutory purpose of reducing traffic 
accidents and associated deaths and injuries.\25\ The responsibility 
for promulgation of

[[Page 70420]]

Federal motor vehicle safety standards is delegated to NHTSA. (49 CFR 
1.95)\26\
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    \21\ 49 U.S.C. 30111(a).
    \22\ 49 U.S.C. 30102(a)(8).
    \23\ 49 U.S.C. 30102(a)(9).
    \24\ 49 U.S.C. 30111(b).
    \25\ Id.
    \26\ The Secretary also delegated to NHTSA the authority set out 
for Section 101(f) of Public Law 106-159 to carry out, in 
coordination with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator, 
the authority vested in the Secretary by subchapter 311 and section 
31502 of title 49, U.S.C., to promulgate safety standards for 
commercial motor vehicles and equipment subsequent to initial 
manufacture when the standards are based upon and similar to a 
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard promulgated, either 
simultaneously or previously, under chapter 301 of title 49, U.S.C.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

b. Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act of 2012

    On July 6, 2012, President Obama signed MAP-21, which incorporated 
in Subtitle G the ``Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act of 2012,'' P.L. 112-
141 (July 6, 2012). Section 32703(a) of the Act states that, not later 
than 1 year after the date of enactment of the Act, the Secretary shall 
prescribe regulations requiring safety belts to be installed in 
motorcoaches at each designated seating position. The Motorcoach 
Enhanced Safety Act also directs the Secretary to consider various 
motorcoach rulemakings, in provided timeframes, relating to improved 
roof support standards, advanced glazing standards and other portal 
improvements to prevent partial and complete ejection of motorcoach 
passengers, rollover stability enhancing technology, tire pressure 
monitoring systems, and tire performance standards. The Act also 
includes provisions on fire research, interior impact protection, 
enhanced seating designs, and collision avoidance systems, and the 
consideration of rulemaking based on such research. There also are 
provisions in the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act relating to improved 
oversight of motorcoach service providers, including enhancements to 
driver licensing and training programs and motorcoach inspection 
programs.
    In Section 32702, ``Definitions,'' of the Motorcoach Enhanced 
Safety Act, the Act states at Section 32702(6) that ``the term 
`motorcoach' has the meaning given the term `over-the-road bus' in 
section 3038(a)(3) of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st 
Century (49 U.S.C. 5310 note), but does not include a bus used in 
public transportation provided by, or on behalf of, a public 
transportation agency; or a school bus, including a multifunction 
school activity bus.'' Section 3038(a)(3) (49 U.S.C. 5310 note) states: 
``The term `over-the-road bus' means a bus characterized by an elevated 
passenger deck located over a baggage compartment.''
    Section 32702(2) of the Act states: ``The term `bus' has the 
meaning given the term in section 571.3(b) of title 49, Code of Federal 
Regulations (as in effect on the day before the date of enactment of 
this Act).'' 49 CFR 571.3(b) is a NHTSA regulation that defines ``bus'' 
as: ``a motor vehicle with motive power, except a trailer, designed for 
carrying more than 10 persons.''
    Section 32702(12) of the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act states: 
``The term `safety belt' has the meaning given the term in section 
153(i)(4)(B) of title 23, United States Code.'' Section 153(i)(4)(B) of 
Title 23 defines ``safety belt'' as ``an occupant restraint system 
consisting of integrated lap shoulder belts.''
    Under section 32703(e)(1) of the Act, any regulation prescribed in 
accordance with section 32703(a) (and several other subsections) shall 
apply to all motorcoaches manufactured more than 3 years after the date 
on which the regulation is published as a final rule, take into account 
the impact to seating capacity of changes to size and weight of 
motorcoaches and the ability to comply with State and Federal size and 
weight requirements, and be based on the best available science.
    Section 32703(e)(2), ``Retrofit Assessment For Existing 
Motorcoaches,'' states: ``The Secretary may assess the feasibility, 
benefits, and costs with respect to the application of any requirement 
established under subsection (a) or (b)(2) to motorcoaches manufactured 
before the date on which the requirement applies to new motorcoaches 
under paragraph (1).'' The requirements of today's final rule were 
established under subsection (a).
    Section 32706, ``Concurrence of Research and Rulemaking,'' states 
in paragraph (a) that, to the extent feasible, the Secretary shall 
ensure that research programs are carried out concurrently, and in a 
manner that concurrently assesses results, potential countermeasures, 
costs, and benefits. Paragraph (b), ``Authority to Combine 
Rulemakings,'' states: ``When considering each of the rulemaking 
provisions, the Secretary may initiate a single rulemaking proceeding 
encompassing all aspects or may combine the rulemakings as the 
Secretary deems appropriate.'' Paragraph (c), ``Considerations,'' 
states: If the Secretary undertakes separate rulemaking proceedings, 
the Secretary shall (1) consider whether each added aspect of 
rulemaking may contribute to addressing the safety need determined to 
require rulemaking; (2) consider the benefits obtained through the 
safety belts rulemaking in section 32703(a); and (3) avoid duplicative 
benefits, costs, and countermeasures.
    Section 32711 of the Act states: Any standard or regulation 
prescribed or modified pursuant to the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act 
of 2012 shall be prescribed or modified in accordance with section 553 
of title 5, United States Code.

c. Agency Views

    At the time of the enactment of the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act, 
the agency's August 18, 2010 NPRM to require lap/shoulder belts in new 
buses with a GVWR greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb) had been published 
and work was close to completion in DOT on the final rule. Congress was 
aware of our progress on the agency's 2007 NHTSA's Approach to 
Motorcoach Safety Plan and the achievements of the Department's 
Motorcoach Safety Plan when it passed the statute. Given that the 
Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act provides a very short timeframe (1 year) 
for issuance of a final rule, we believe that Congress intended that a 
final rule based on the 2010 NPRM would complete the rulemaking 
proceeding specified in section 32703(a) of the Act. This final rule 
fulfills the rulemaking mandate of section 32703(a).
    We interpret the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act as providing us 
discretion in most areas, while limiting it in some. This regulation 
was initiated by NHTSA prior to enactment of Act and we are required by 
the statute to complete it in 1 year, and to complete it in such a way 
as to prescribe ``safety belts'' (lap/shoulder belts) at ``each 
designated seating position'' in the buses the statute calls 
``motorcoaches'' (over-the-road buses except for buses used in public 
transportation provided by, or on behalf of, a public transportation 
agency, or school buses). This final rule achieves the Congressional 
goal that focuses on over-the-road buses \27\ and requires all 
designated seating positions on the over-the-road buses to have lap/
shoulder belts regardless of the seating configuration of the bus or 
the vehicle GVWR. To the extent discretion in our decision-making on a 
particular issue for over-the-road buses is limited by the Act, we have 
identified those circumstances in this preamble.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \27\ An over-the-road bus is a bus characterized by an elevated 
passenger deck over a baggage compartment.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Yet, this regulation was initiated by NHTSA under the authority of 
the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act (49 U.S.C. 30101 et 
seq.), prior to enactment of the Motorcoach

[[Page 70421]]

Enhanced Safety Act, and Congress was aware of the NPRM when it enacted 
the 2012 statute. NHTSA issued the NPRM under rulemaking authority that 
has existed and continues to exist prior to and separate from the 2012 
Act. There is no provision in the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act 
limiting NHTSA's rulemaking authority under the Vehicle Safety Act to 
require belts on buses, other than specific mandate for ``over-the-road 
buses,'' which the statute defines. Thus, we believe that the 
Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act calls for a regulation for ``over-the-
road buses'' without limiting our authority under the Vehicle Safety 
Act to apply the regulation to other buses as NHTSA finds appropriate 
under the Vehicle Safety Act, including over-the-road buses used in 
public transportation, and buses other than over-the-road buses (e.g., 
body-on-frame buses) with a GVWR greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb).
    Accordingly, this final rule requires lap/shoulder belts on buses 
other than those called ``motorcoaches'' in the Motorcoach Enhanced 
Safety Act. We also believe that NHTSA has wider decision-making 
discretion regarding those ``other buses,'' and is able to exclude a 
particular type of non-over-the-road bus from a requirement of the 
final rule if the agency finds good reason to do so. For example, for 
sound, practical reasons, including the safety of prison guards, this 
regulation does not require designated seating positions for prisoners 
on ``prison buses'' to have seat belts.
    NHTSA is authorized under the Vehicle Safety Act to issue motor 
vehicle safety standards that ``shall be practicable, meet the need for 
motor vehicle safety, and be stated in objective terms'' (49 U.S.C. 
30111(a)). When prescribing a motor vehicle safety standard, NHTSA 
considers, inter alia, relevant available motor vehicle safety 
information, whether a standard is reasonable, practicable, and 
appropriate for the particular type of motor vehicle or motor vehicle 
equipment for which it is prescribed, and the extent to which the 
standard will carry out the purpose and policy of the Act, i.e., reduce 
traffic accidents and deaths and injuries resulting from traffic 
accidents (49 U.S.C. 30111(b)). In exercising this authority, we have 
responded to the comments on the NPRM and assessed other information 
relevant to this rulemaking in a manner that ensures that the final 
rule meets the criteria of the Vehicle Safety Act, the Administrative 
Procedure Act, other relevant statutes and orders, and the particular 
statutory instructions of the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act.
    As to the latter, among the matters we have taken into account are 
the impact on seating capacity and the impact on the size and weight of 
motorcoaches. We have considered the best available science. We have 
weighed the cumulative effect of our rulemakings and whether rulemaking 
could be combined. We have analyzed retrofit requirements. In sum, we 
have issued this final rule after careful deliberation of the factors 
emphasized for consideration in the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act, 
which we note are also factors NHTSA investigates carefully and as a 
matter of course when the agency conducts rulemaking under the National 
Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act.

III. Background

a. The Agency's 2007 ``NHTSA's Approach to Motorcoach Safety'' Plan

    In 2007, NHTSA undertook a comprehensive review of motorcoach 
(intercity bus) safety issues and the course of action that the agency 
could pursue to address them. The agency considered various prevention, 
mitigation, and evacuation approaches in developing the course of 
action. Many considerations were factored into determining the 
priorities, including: Cost and duration of testing, development, and 
analysis required; likelihood that the effort would lead to the desired 
and successful conclusion; target population and possible benefits that 
might be realized; and anticipated cost of implementing the ensuing 
requirements into the bus fleet.
    The result was NHTSA's 2007 ``NHTSA's Approach to Motorcoach 
Safety'' plan (Docket No. NHTSA-2007-28793-001), in which we identified 
the following areas as the highest priorities for possible near term 
regulatory action to enhance the safety of the vehicles: (1) Passenger 
ejection; (2) rollover structural integrity; (3) emergency egress; and 
(4) fire safety. For passenger ejection (action (1)), we pursued the 
incorporation of passenger seat belts as the most effective and 
expeditious way to mitigate ejection.
    Today's final rule completes the agency's initiative in achieving 
the first goal of the plan.\28\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \28\ NHTSA is completing work on a proposal with regard to 
action (2) on improving rollover structural integrity.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

b. DOT's 2009 Task Force Action Plan

    In 2009, DOT issued a Departmental Motorcoach Safety Action Plan, 
which outlined a Department-wide strategy to enhance motorcoach 
safety.\29\ In addition to the four priority action items specified in 
NHTSA's 2007 ``NHTSA's Approach to Motorcoach Safety'' plan, the DOT 
plan identified other strategies the Department will pursue to enhance 
motorcoach safety, such as pursuing electronic stability control (ESC) 
systems, event data recorders (EDR), and programs addressing driver 
fatigue and operator maintenance. On May 23, 2012, NHTSA issued an NPRM 
to establish a new Federal motor vehicle safety standard on ESC, to 
reduce rollover and loss of directional control crashes of truck 
tractors and large buses, including motorcoaches (77 FR 30766, Docket 
number NHTSA-2012-0065). Work is underway in NHTSA and the other DOT 
agencies on other motorcoach safety initiatives discussed in the plan.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \29\ http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/documents/safety-security/MotorcoachSafetyActionPlan_finalreport-508.pdf. In the DOT plan, 
``motorcoach'' is generally used to describe over-the-road buses 
(buses characterized by an elevated passenger deck over a baggage 
compartment).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

c. NTSB Recommendations

    The following NTSB recommendations relate to this final rule.
     H-90-75: Revise Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 208, 
Occupant Crash Protection, to include a requirement that lap shoulder 
belt systems for the driver position be installed in all newly 
manufactured buses, including city, intercity, small, and large. (Class 
II, Priority Action).
     H-99-47 (``Most Wanted''): In 2 years, develop performance 
standards for motorcoach occupant protection systems that account for 
frontal impact collisions, side impact collisions, rear impact 
collisions, and rollovers.
     H-99-48: Once pertinent standards have been developed for 
motorcoach occupant protection systems, require newly manufactured 
motorcoaches to have an occupant crash protection system that meets the 
newly developed performance standards and retains passengers, including 
those in child safety restraint systems, within the seating compartment 
throughout the accident sequence for all accident scenarios.
     H-05-01: Develop performance standards for passenger seat 
anchorages in motorcoaches.
     H-10-002: To maintain consistency in bus body 
classifications and to clarify the scope of bus safety initiatives, 
develop regulatory definitions and classifications for each of the 
different bus body types that would apply to all U.S. Department of 
Transportation agencies and promote use of the

[[Page 70422]]

definitions among the bus industry and state governments.
     H-10-003: In NHTSA's rulemaking to improve motorcoach 
occupant protection, include all buses with a GVWR greater than 10,000 
lb, other than school buses.
H-90-75, H-99-47, H-99-48, H-05-01, H-10-002, and H-10-003
    It should be noted that, at the time NTSB recommendations H-90-75, 
H-99-47, H-99-48, and H-05-01 were issued, there were no crash test 
data or countermeasure studies available. Today, the testing we 
conducted as part of the ``NHTSA's Approach to Motorcoach Safety'' plan 
provides extensive data upon which the agency has assessed the 
practicability of installing lap/shoulder belt systems on the affected 
buses and the potential effectiveness of the belts at passenger seating 
positions.\30\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \30\ NHTSA's research program evaluating the performance of seat 
belt systems on motorcoach passenger seats is discussed in detail in 
the NPRM, Section V. See 75 FR at 50967. See also the FRIA for this 
final rule.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    H-90-75 recommended that we amend FMVSS No. 208 to require that 
lap/shoulder belt systems for the driver position be installed in all 
newly manufactured buses. This final rule adopts a lap/shoulder belt 
requirement for the driver's position of large school buses, all over-
the-road buses, and non-over-the-road buses with a GVWR greater than 
11,793 kg (26,000 lb) with certain exceptions.\31\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \31\ Exceptions are transit buses and perimeter-seating buses.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    H-99-47 and H-99-48 requested us to develop performance standards 
for motorcoach occupant protection systems that account for frontal 
impact collisions, side impact collisions, rear impact collisions, and 
rollovers, and apply those standards to new motorcoaches. Today's final 
rule requires lap/shoulder belts at each passenger seating position in 
the affected buses, which includes all over-the-road buses. In the 
NHTSA test program conducted as part of our ``Approach to Motorcoach 
Safety'' plan, lap/shoulder belts on forward-facing seats were found to 
prevent elevated head and neck injury values and provided enhanced 
occupant protection compared to lap belts.
    Addressing H-99-48, this final rule requires the lap/shoulder belts 
on passenger seating positions to meet FMVSS No. 208's ``lockability'' 
requirement (S7.1.1.5, 49 CFR 571.208). The requirement is for the lap 
belt to be lockable so as to secure child restraint systems tightly, 
without the need to attach a clip or any other device to the vehicle's 
seat belt webbing.
    This final rule addresses H-05-01, which recommended that NHTSA 
develop performance standards for passenger seat anchorages in 
motorcoaches. This final rule requires that the lap/shoulder seat belt 
anchorages on the affected buses meet the anchorage strength 
requirements for lap/shoulder belts in FMVSS No. 210. Those existing 
strength requirements specify that each lap/shoulder belt be tested 
with a load of 13,345 N (3,000 lb) applied simultaneously to the lap 
and shoulder belt, for a total load of 26,690 N (6,000 lb). This 
requirement is based on test data from our research program, discussed 
in ``NHTSA's Approach to Motorcoach Safety'' plan, showing the 13,345 N 
(3,000 lb) strength requirement is needed to address loads that can 
occur in serious frontal crashes.
    In issuing today's final rule, NHTSA carefully considered H-10-002, 
which asked NHTSA to develop regulatory definitions and classifications 
for each of the different bus body types that would apply to all DOT 
agencies. This issue is discussed in a later section of this preamble 
on the proposed ``motorcoach'' definition.
    We also carefully considered H-10-003, which asked NHTSA to include 
buses with a GVWR of 4,536 kg (10,000 lb) or more in rulemaking to 
improve motorcoach occupant protection. NTSB and others raised this 
issue in comments on the NPRM, and our response on this issue is 
provided in the definition section of this preamble.

d. Congressional Mandate

    On July 6, 2012, President Obama signed the ``Moving Ahead for 
Progress in the 21st Century Act'' (MAP-21),'' which incorporated in 
Subtitle G the ``Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act of 2012.'' Section II 
of this preamble, above, summarizes the provisions of the Act relevant 
to this final rule.

IV. Safety Need

a. Introduction

    Each year, the commercial bus industry transports millions of 
people between and in cities, for long and short distance tours, school 
field trips, commuter, and entertainment-related trips. According to 
the American Bus Association (ABA), there were approximately 3,400 
motorcoach \32\ carriers in the United States and Canada in 2007.\33\ 
These motorcoach carriers operated over 33,000 motorcoaches, they 
logged nearly 750 million passenger trips, and they traveled over 1.8 
billion miles yearly. Approximately 3,100 of the carriers were 
chartered U.S. carriers that operated about 29,000 motorcoaches.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \32\ As used in the report, ``motorcoach'' refers to an over-
the-road bus. When we discuss this report, we use the term 
motorcoach to mean an over-the-road bus.
    \33\ ``Motorcoach Census 2008, A Benchmarking Study of the Size 
and Activity of the Motorcoach Industry in the United States and 
Canada in 2007.'' Paul Bourquin, Economist and Industry Analyst, 
December 18, 2008.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    According to the ABA report, the services provided by these 
commercial buses in 2007 included charter services (pre-formed group 
(organization, association, tour company, shuttle service, church, 
school, etc.) that hires a motorcoach for exclusive use under a fixed 
contract) (46.4 percent of the miles driven), scheduled service 
(specified, ticketed, predetermined regular-route service between 
cities or terminals) (26.5 percent of the miles driven), commuter 
service (transporting people between home and work) (10.3 percent of 
the miles driven), tour/sightseeing service (planned trip at fixed 
price for leisure and/or sightseeing) (8.2 percent of the miles 
driven), special operations (published, regular-route service to 
special events, or service for employees to work sites) (3.5 percent of 
the miles driven), and airport shuttle services (private motorcoaches 
used to enhance public transportation system service to and from the 
airport) (3.4 percent of the miles driven). In 2007, each motorcoach 
was driven an average of 56,000 miles. The majority of the motorcoach 
trips (65 percent) were made by children and senior citizens.
    Although commercial bus transportation overall is a safe form of 
transportation in the U.S., a number of crashes in recent years have 
illustrated that fatal crashes of high-capacity buses, while a 
relatively rare event, can cause a significant number of fatal or 
serious injuries in a single event. Pursuant to the requirements of the 
Vehicle Safety Act, NHTSA developed its ``Approach to Motorcoach 
Safety'' plan and commenced the associated safety rulemakings to 
explore whether there are unreasonable safety risks associated with 
these buses, and if there are, whether the risks can be reduced in a 
reasonable manner by the issuance of crashworthiness and crash 
avoidance safety standards.
    We started by analyzing fatal accident crash data from 2000-2009 to 
assess whether there are unreasonable safety risks associated with 
high-occupancy bus transportation. We analyzed data for buses with a 
GVWR greater than 4,536 kg (10,000 lb). The 2000-2009 FARS

[[Page 70423]]

data revealed that 83 percent of the fatalities in the buses were in 
buses with a GVWR greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb). We focused our 
rulemaking on those buses, effectively using agency resources.
    FARS data show that over half of the fatalities in buses with a 
GVWR greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb) were attributable to rollovers, 
and that the vast majority of fatalities in rollovers were due to 
ejections.
    NHTSA's research on passenger vehicle and motorcoach rollovers has 
shown that there exists a proven countermeasure (a lap/shoulder seat 
belt) that is readily available, practicable, and cost effective, that 
successfully mitigates the risk of ejection in rollovers. We have also 
found that nearly half of the fatalities in the covered vehicles were 
in non-rollover crashes, and that more than half of the fatalities in 
the 2000-2009 FARS files were not ejected. The potential benefit of 
lap/shoulder seat belts in reducing those non-ejection fatalities is 
also remarkable.
    This final rule addresses the present occupant fatality risk in 
over-the-road buses and in other buses with a GVWR greater than 11,793 
kg (26,000 lb), given the occurrence of fatality and serious injury in 
rollover and frontal crashes, and the proven protection afforded by 
lap/shoulder seat belts. Various commenters have urged us also to 
require lap/shoulder seat belts on all buses with a GVWR between 4,536 
kg and 11,793 kg (10,000 lb and 26,000 lb). Although we decline to do 
so in today's rulemaking, we can continue our evaluation of whether 
belts should be required for all buses with a GVWR less than 11,793 kg 
(26,000 lb) after this final rule.

b. FARS Data

    To identify the vehicles to which this rulemaking should apply, the 
agency examined FARS data files to understand characteristics and 
trends associated with bus fatal crashes.\34\ FARS contains data on a 
census of fatal traffic crashes within the 50 States, the District of 
Columbia, and Puerto Rico. To be included in FARS, a crash must involve 
a motor vehicle traveling on a traffic way customarily open to the 
public, and must result in the death of an occupant of a vehicle or a 
non-occupant within 30 days of the crash.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \34\ Previous discussion of the FARS data is set forth in the 
2010 seat belt NPRM and in the DOT 2009 Motorcoach Action Plan, 
http://www.nhtsa.gov/staticfiles/DOT/NHTSA/reports/HS811177.pdf. In 
the DOT 2009 Motorcoach Action Plan, ``motorcoach'' referred to 
over-the-road buses only.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In developing this rulemaking, we analyzed 10 years of FARS data 
for all high-occupancy buses, i.e., buses with a GVWR greater than 
4,536 kg (10,000 lb). We analyzed these FARS data to understand the 
involvement of these buses in fatal crashes, and to develop a focused 
strategy for improving the crashworthiness and crash-avoidance 
attributes of such buses involved in fatal crashes. We did not include 
data for transit and school buses in this analysis, as these vehicles 
are not used as motorcoaches or coded as such in FARS, and were not the 
vehicles targeted by the NHTSA and DOT safety plans, or by the 
Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act of 2012, as the subjects of this 
rulemaking initiative.
    The FARS data analysis for fatalities of occupants in buses with a 
GVWR greater than 4,536 kg (10,000 lb) showed that 83 percent of the 
occupant fatalities were in buses with a GVWR greater than 11,793 kg 
(26,000 lb). That is, in these 10 years of data, one noteworthy 
attribute of the high-occupancy vehicles involved in fatal crashes was 
that in an overwhelming majority of cases, the GVWR of the vehicles was 
more than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb). Thus, based on these data, NHTSA 
determined that the vehicles of significance for this immediate 
rulemaking were buses with a GVWR greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 
lb).\35\ The FARS data indicated that these buses have a substantially 
higher involvement in fatal crashes involving passenger fatalities than 
buses with a GVWR of 4,536 kg to 11,793 kg (10,000 lb to 26,000 lb). 
The buses with a GVWR greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb) also had more 
involvement in rollover crashes resulting in occupant ejection than 
buses with a lighter GVWR.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \35\ In the NPRM, NHTSA described the GVWR criterion as 11,793 
kg (26,000 lb) or greater, which was not consistent with FMCSA's 
criterion describing the affected class of commercial vehicles (GVWR 
greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb)). This final rule uses the FMCSA 
criterion (GVWR greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb) in describing the 
affected vehicles.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

c. Updated FARS Data

    For the NPRM, the agency assumed that the vehicles of significance 
were coded in FARS as ``cross-country/intercity buses'' in the body 
type variable.\36\ ``Cross-country/intercity buses'' is defined in FARS 
as buses designed to travel long distances between cities (e.g. 
Greyhound) and is represented by the over-the-road bus characterized by 
an elevated passenger deck located over a baggage compartment.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \36\ The FARS database has five bus body type categories: (1) 
cross-country/intercity bus, (2) transit bus, (3) school bus, (4) 
other bus, and (5) unknown bus.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    After the NPRM was published, we became aware that we had missed 
some FARS data that had been filed in the ``other buses'' and ``unknown 
buses'' FARS body type categories by crash investigators. To address 
this, when we updated the FARS data for this final rule to include the 
2009 FARS data, we also examined 2000-2009 FARS data for ``other 
buses'' and ``unknown buses'' FARS bus body types. We expanded our 
analysis to make sure that we identified and examined FARS data for all 
high-occupancy bus crashes (GVWR greater than 4,536 kg (10,000 
lb)).\37\ We considered data from all three bus body type categories to 
assess the fatal crash involvement of buses with a GVWR greater than 
4,536 kg (10,000 lb).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \37\ By considering the data for buses categorized as cross-
country/intercity buses, other buses, and unknown buses as relevant 
data, we are analyzing FARS data for all buses in FARS except data 
for transit buses and school buses. It is reasonable to exclude 
transit bus and school bus body types because those bus types are 
easily recognized and categorized as such by crash investigators and 
those coding the FARS data. By considering all data for the cross-
country/intercity bus, other bus and unknown bus categories, today's 
final rule analyzes all available FARS data relevant to 
``motorcoach'' and other bus fatal crashes.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The findings of the reanalyzed 2000-2009 FARS data of all buses 
with a GVWR greater than 4,536 kg (10,000 lb) still showed the merits 
of focusing this particular rulemaking on buses with a GVWR greater 
than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb). These buses have a substantially higher 
involvement in fatal crashes involving passenger fatalities than buses 
with a GVWR of 4,536 kg to 11,793 kg (10,000 lb to 26,000 lb). Over the 
10-year period (2000-2009), there were a total of 42 (7 drivers, 35 
passengers) fatalities in cross-country/intercity buses, other buses, 
and unknown buses with a GVWR of 4,536 kg to 11,793 kg (10,000 lb to 
26,000 lb). In contrast, among the cross-country/intercity buses, other 
buses, and unknown buses categories with a GVWR greater than 11,793 kg 
(26,000 lb), there were a total of 209 (41 drivers, 168 passengers) 
occupant fatalities \38\ in crashes during the 10-year period (2000-
2009). This number includes 134 occupant fatalities in cross-country/
intercity buses, 47 in other buses, and 28 in unknown buses (see Table 
5 and Figure 1 below).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \38\ There were 232 occupant fatalities in the affected buses in 
this 10-year period but 23 fatalities occurred due to a fire 
(Wilmer, Texas motorcoach fire) and were not related to a crash 
event. To accurately assess the fatality, NHTSA did not include the 
23 Wilmer, Texas fatalities since those were not crash-related.

[[Page 70424]]



               Table 5--Number of Bus Occupant Fatalities in Crashes by Bus Body Type, GVWR, and Occupant Type. FARS 2000-2009 Data Files
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                   Bus body type
                                                         -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                        GVWR (lb)                              Cross-country               Other                  Unknown                  Total
                                                         -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                            Driver       Pass       Driver       Pass       Driver       Pass       Driver       Pass
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
10,000-26,000...........................................           0           2           5          26           2           7           7          35
>26,000.................................................          22         112          11          36           8          20          41         168
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

                                                                                                                                              [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR25NO13.000
                                                                                                                                              
    To promulgate a ``motorcoach'' lap/shoulder seat belt standard most 
effectively, expeditiously, and most closely aligned with NHTSA's 
Vehicle Safety Act, the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act, and the NHTSA 
and DOT motorcoach safety plans, the agency has focused this particular 
rulemaking on all over-the-road buses and other buses with a GVWR 
greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb). The present crash data indicate a 
current need to require lap/shoulder seat belts in buses with a GVWR 
greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb).\39\ We can examine buses with a 
GVWR less than or equal to 11,793 kg (26,000 lb) in a separate action, 
where information specific to those buses could be more closely 
analyzed. Safety is our highest priority, and we will continuously work 
to adopt practical measures that make our transportation systems safer.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \39\ We note that, consistent with the Motorcoach Enhanced 
Safety Act, today's final rule includes over-the-road buses with a 
GVWR less than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb). However, the FARS data in 
Table 1 shows only 2 fatalities in over-the-road buses (coded as 
cross-country by FARS) with a GVWR of 4,536 kg to 11,793 kg (10,000 
lb to 26,000 lb). These are most likely miscoded. Thus, the field 
data analysis focuses on buses with a GVWR greater than 11,793 kg 
(26,000 lb).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Fatality Trends for Buses With a GVWR Greater Than 11,793 kg (26,000 
lb)
    Among the 209 occupant fatalities in buses with a GVWR greater than 
11,793 kg (26,000 lb) in the 10-year period (2000-2009), the FARS data 
show that 168 (80 percent) were passengers, and 41 (20 percent) were 
drivers. In addition, the data show that 64 percent of the fatalities 
were in cross-country/intercity buses and 36 percent were in the other 
bus and unknown bus categories (see Table 5 above).
    As shown in Figure 1, fatalities in the affected vehicles in 
certain years were significantly higher than average. There were 28 or 
more occupant fatalities in the covered buses in 2002, 2004, and 2008. 
We note that such increases in the fatality statistics were often 
attributable to a small number of serious crashes during the year which 
caused a large number of fatalities.
    For example, the majority of fatalities in 2004 resulted from a 
crash in Arkansas, which involved an over-the-road bus hitting a 
highway signpost and subsequently rolling over. The rollover and 
partial detachment of the roof resulted in the ejection of all 30 
occupants. This crash resulted in 15 fatalities, including the driver. 
All 14 passengers who died in this crash were ejected.
    The 42 passenger fatalities in the covered buses in 2008 were 
mainly a result of 3 separate crashes. The first event was a rollover 
crash that occurred in Mexican Hat, Utah, where the over-the-road bus 
overturned as it departed the roadway and rolled one full turn, 
striking several rocks in a drainage ditch bed at the bottom of the 
embankment, and came to rest on its wheels. The roof of the bus 
separated from the body, and 51 of the 53 occupants were ejected. Nine 
passengers were fatally injured

[[Page 70425]]

and 43 passengers and the driver received various injuries.
    The second 2008 event was a crash in Sherman, Texas, where the 
over-the-road bus went through the bridge railing and off the bridge 
about 15 feet above a creek, then rolled onto its side. Seventeen 
passengers died in the crash.
    The third 2008 event was a rollover crash near Williams, 
California, where the over-the-road bus flipped and rolled into a 
ditch, killing 9 people and injuring more than 30 others. Approximately 
a dozen passengers were ejected from the bus.
Rollover and Ejection Statistics
    Using the aforementioned FARS bus body type categories (cross-
county/intercity, other buses and unknown buses), the agency examined 
the 2000-2009 FARS data for vehicles with a GVWR greater than 11,793 kg 
(26,000 lb) to understand more about the fatal crashes. The FARS data 
show that rollovers account for more than half of the occupant 
fatalities in crashes of the affected buses. Figure 2, below, shows the 
209 fatalities in the affected buses categorized by rollover/first 
impact point for the 10-year period 2000-2009. If a bus had been 
involved in a rollover, it is categorized as a rollover crash since a 
rollover is generally the most harmful event in a crash and results in 
most of the passenger fatalities. Buses not involved in a rollover are 
categorized by first impact point (front, side, and rear).
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR25NO13.001

    Among the 209 occupant fatalities in buses with a GVWR greater than 
11,793 kg (26,000 lb) (2000-2009 FARS data), rollovers accounted for 
114 fatalities (55 percent). There were no fatalities in side impacts 
in cross-country and unknown bus body type categories and no fatalities 
in rear impacts for all three bus body type categories.
    The agency further examined these data and found that a majority of 
fatalities in rollover crashes of buses with a GVWR greater than 11,793 
kg (26,000 lb) involved occupant ejections. Figure 3 shows the 
distribution of fatalities in rollover crashes of cross-country, other, 
and unknown buses with a GVWR greater than 26,000 lb, by occupant type 
and ejection status. For the 10-year period from 2000 to 2009, there 
were 32 fatal rollover crashes, resulting in 114 fatalities. In these 
rollover crashes, two-thirds (75 out of 114) of the fatalities were 
occupants who were ejected. Three drivers (3 percent) involved in 
rollover crashes were ejected.

[[Page 70426]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR25NO13.002

    Figure 4 shows ejection status as related to the occurrence of 
rollovers of the covered buses. For non-rollover crashes there were 95 
fatalities, or 45.5 percent (95/209) of the total. In non-rollover 
crashes only 20.0 percent (19/95) of the 95 fatalities were ejected. 
Considering all crash types, fatalities were split nearly equally 
between ejected (45.0 percent (94/209)) and non-ejected (55.0 percent 
(115/209)).
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR25NO13.003


[[Page 70427]]



V. Summary of the NPRM

    The FARS data showed that rollovers accounted for 55 percent of 
fatalities in buses with a GVWR greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb). 
Further, the vast majority of fatalities in rollover crashes of these 
covered buses involved occupant ejections. NHTSA proposed in the August 
18, 2010 NPRM to amend FMVSS No. 208 to require lap/shoulder belts at 
all passenger seating positions on ``motorcoaches,'' which the NPRM 
identified as buses with a GVWR greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb).\40\ 
The agency focused the NPRM on these buses to address the ejection 
safety problem as quickly as possible, and to improve occupant 
protection in frontal crashes. NHTSA's bus research showed that lap/
shoulder belts would improve the survivability of occupants in frontal 
crashes even when a rollover was not involved.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \40\ Exceptions were transit and school buses and buses with 
fewer than two rows of forward-facing seats. Also, as noted earlier, 
the NPRM stated ``GVWR of 11,793 kg (26,000 lb) or more,'' when it 
should have stated ``GVWR greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb)'' to be 
consistent with FMCSA regulations. The latter term is also 
consistent with other NHTSA standards, which use the ``GVWR greater 
than'' phrasing rather than the ``GVWR of X or more.''
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    To define the types of vehicles to which the amended requirements 
would apply, the NPRM proposed to add a definition of ``motorcoach'' to 
49 CFR Part 571.3 and to apply FMVSS No. 208`s amended requirements to 
``motorcoaches.'' The proposed definition was as follows:

    [Proposed definition] Motorcoach means a bus with a gross 
vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 11,793 kilograms (26,000 pounds) or 
greater, 16 or more designated seating positions (including the 
driver), and at least 2 rows of passenger seats, rearward of the 
driver's seating position, that are forward-facing or can convert to 
forward-facing without the use of tools. Motorcoach includes buses 
sold for intercity, tour, and commuter bus service, but does not 
include a school bus, or an urban transit bus sold for operation as 
a common carrier in urban transportation along a fixed route with 
frequent stops.

    The NPRM proposed to modify FMVSS No. 208 to require lap/shoulder 
belts at each seating position (except side-facing seats were permitted 
to have either a lap or a lap/shoulder belt), require the belts to be 
integral to the seat (except the driver seat) and to meet current FMVSS 
No. 208 provisions for seat belt adjustment, fit, lockability, and 
release. By virtue of the FMVSS No. 208 requirement for lap/shoulder 
belts at each seat, the NPRM proposed the lap/shoulder belt anchorages 
meet FMVSS No. 210, which specifies a force of 13,345 N (3,000 lb) 
applied simultaneously to the lap and torso portions of the belt 
assembly.

VI. Overview of the Comments

    NHTSA received approximately 130 comments on the NPRM. Comments 
were received from consumer and other groups, individuals, bus seat 
suppliers, bus manufacturers and industry groups, and motorcoach owners 
and operators.
    This section provides a high-level overview of the comments, and 
focuses mainly on the reaction of the commenters to the general issue 
of whether lap/shoulder belts should be required for motorcoach 
passengers. We note below the general support or opposition to that 
issue, but readers should keep in mind that there were many issues in 
the NPRM to which commenters replied. Summaries of responses to sub-
issues are provided, to the extent relevant, in the appropriate 
sections of this preamble.
    Many consumer and other groups strongly supported the proposal that 
lap/shoulder belts be provided for motorcoach passengers. Commenters 
supporting the proposal included: NTSB, Consumers Union, Advocates for 
Highway Safety, Center for Automotive Safety, National Association of 
Bus Crash Families/West Brook Bus Crash Families, groups representing 
pediatricians, child passenger safety advocates, and school bus 
transportation organizations, and private individuals. Of the 
approximately 42 individual members of the public commenting on the 
NPRM, over 31 supported the proposed requirement for lap/shoulder 
belts.
    The 10 individual members of the public opposing the proposed 
requirement for lap/shoulder belts generally cited the low annual 
number of motorcoach fatalities, low seat belt use, poor comfort, 
difficulty of enforcing use, and a perceived high cost per life saved. 
Many suggested that efforts should be placed on ``more meaningful'' 
safety reforms than seat belts, such as driver training programs, 
limiting the driver's operating hours and/or distance traveled between 
breaks, and monitoring driver performance. The People's Republic of 
China opposed the NPRM, stating that seat belts should be optional 
except for seats in rows that lack ``obvious shielding'' (e.g., the 
first row).
    Seat suppliers IMMI \41\ and American Seating supported the 
proposed seat belt requirement, as did the Automotive Occupant 
Restraints Council.\42\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \41\ IMMI was founded as Indiana Mills and Manufacturing, Inc. 
IMMI also manufactures seat belt systems.
    \42\ In 2011 the organization changed its name to the Automotive 
Safety Council (ASC).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Bus manufacturers and associations mostly did not overtly support 
or oppose the proposal, but most expressed concern about one or more 
aspects of it. Motor Coach Industries (MCI), a motorcoach manufacturer, 
stated that the NPRM's claiming that seat belts would enhance rollover 
protection was speculative and that NHTSA should conduct more research 
on this subject. Turtle Top, a bus manufacturer, asked that seat belts 
be a safety option. Blue Bird, a bus and school bus manufacturer, 
indicated that it supported NHTSA's efforts, but asked that NHTSA 
exclude buses that met Federal school bus roof crush and occupant 
protection (lap belt) requirements. Several European bus manufacturers 
(Van Hool, Setra) stated that the FMVSS No. 210 seat belt anchorage 
requirement will cause seat backs to be too rigid, and suggested we 
adopt European belt anchorage requirements instead. Several bus 
manufacturers asked for a ``prison bus'' exclusion.
    Motorcoach transportation providers were divided in their reaction 
to the proposed requirement for lap/shoulder seat belts. The operators 
of the larger fleets in the industry were supportive of the proposal. 
There was concern about costs associated with the upkeep and 
maintenance of seat belts and enforcement of belt use. The majority of 
smaller transportation providers opposed having seat belts for 
passenger seating positions. Most of these commenters cited the 
excellent overall safety record for their industry, and expressed 
concerns about increased cost, possible low seat belt use rate, and 
difficulties in enforcing seat belt use. About 30 submitted a form 
letter that stated that the costs associated with a retrofit 
requirement would put many companies out of business since they are 
already operating at or close to a loss.
    An issue in the NPRM on which many commented was: To which vehicles 
should lap/shoulder seat belt requirements apply, i.e., the proposed 
definition of ``motorcoach.'' Many consumer groups, seat suppliers, and 
some bus manufacturers supported applying the seat belt requirements to 
all buses with a GVWR greater than 4,536 kg (10,000 lb). Many bus 
manufacturers believed that the proposal did not clearly differentiate 
between motorcoaches and ``transit buses.'' A number of bus 
manufacturers

[[Page 70428]]

wanted to reduce the reach of the definition and exclude more bus 
types. Many commenters had questions about or suggested changes to 
various components of the proposed definition.

VII. Differences Between the Final Rule and the NPRM

    The most significant differences between this final rule and the 
NPRM are described briefly below. Less significant changes are 
discussed in the appropriate sections of this preamble.\43\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \43\ For the convenience of the reader, we have placed in the 
docket for this final rule a memorandum that describes this final 
rule's changes to the organization of FMVSS No. 208.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    This final rule does not adopt a ``motorcoach'' definition. We have 
determined that it is unnecessary to define ``motorcoach'' to 
accomplish the objective of this rulemaking. Instead, it amends FMVSS 
No. 208 to require seat belts and the associated requirements at all 
seating positions on over-the-road buses and on buses, other than over-
the-road buses, with a GVWR greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb), with 
the exception of certain bus types.\44\ Further, simply applying FMVSS 
No. 208 and 210 to all over-the-road buses and to other buses based on 
the GVWR criterion avoids some confusion associated with using the term 
``motorcoach'' to describe certain buses that may not have been widely 
thought of as motorcoaches in the past or described as such by the 
Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \44\ The exceptions are transit buses, school buses, ``prison 
buses'' (buses manufactured for the purpose of transporting persons 
subject to involuntary restraint or confinement), and ``perimeter-
seating buses'' (which the NPRM had referred to as buses with fewer 
than two rows of forward-facing seats). Note that under the 
Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act, only non-over-the-road buses can be 
included in these excepted categories of prison bus and perimeter-
seating bus. The Act requires each designated seating position on an 
over-the-road bus to have a lap/shoulder belt.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The proposed GVWR criterion of 11,793 kg (26,000 lb) has been 
slightly changed to ``GVWR greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb)'' from 
``GVWR of 11,793 kg (26,000 lb) or greater.'' The one-pound change was 
made to make the GVWR cut-off more consistent with the regulations of 
FMCSA, which refer to the ``greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb)'' 
terminology in applying its regulations to commercial vehicles.
    The definition of ``motorcoach'' proposed in the NPRM excluded 
buses with fewer than two rows of passenger seats, rearward of the 
driver's seat, that are forward-facing or can convert to forward-
facing. The intent of this exclusion was to assure that buses whose 
seating configuration was primarily around the perimeter of the bus 
would not need to install seat belts.\45\ For simplification, we have 
decided to exclude such perimeter-seating buses by referring to the 
number of forward-facing designated seating positions (DSPs) rearward 
of the driver (7 or fewer DSPs) rather than refer to the term ``row,'' 
which is not defined in 49 CFR 571.3. However, as noted in the footnote 
above, because of the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act, only non-over-
the-road buses can be included in this excepted category of a 
perimeter-seating bus.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \45\ Perimeter seating is exemplified by a single forward-facing 
row of seats at the back of the vehicle, inward-facing seats and a 
large luggage rack, along the side walls. This configuration is 
intended to increase the speed and ease of passenger boarding and 
alighting, such as for airport shuttle buses.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The transit bus exclusion now refers to a simple description of a 
physical feature typically present on a transit bus--the passenger 
``stop request'' system--to identify a transit bus under the rule.
    The passenger seats in buses used for the transport of passengers 
under physical restraint (prison buses) are also excluded from the seat 
belt requirements adopted today. However, as noted in the footnote 
above, because of the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act, only non-over-
the-road buses can be included in this excepted category of prison bus.

VIII. Motorcoach Definition

    The Vehicle Safety Act requires the FMVSSs to be appropriate for 
the vehicle type to which they apply. Each FMVSS specifies the vehicle 
types subject to the standard.
    The vehicles affected by this final rule currently fall under the 
definition of ``bus'' for the purposes of applying the FMVSSs (49 CFR 
Section 571.3) and must comply with the FMVSSs that apply to buses, 
consistent with GVWR specifications. A ``bus'' is defined in Sec.  
571.3 as ``a motor vehicle with motive power, except a trailer, 
designed for carrying more than 10 persons.'' Some FMVSSs (or 
requirements within those standards) apply to buses with a GVWR equal 
to or less than 4,536 kg (10,000 lb), others apply to buses with a GVWR 
greater than 4,536 kg (10,000 lb), and some apply to buses without 
distinguishing GVWR.
    The agency issued the NPRM to reduce the risk of ejection in 
intercity transport buses (75 FR at 50969). A ``motorcoach'' definition 
was proposed ``to define the vehicle type to which the proposed 
requirements apply and to distinguish motorcoaches from other bus 
types.'' Id.
    NHTSA typically analyzes the construction type and the purpose for 
which the vehicle is being built when the agency establishes a vehicle 
class for the FMVSSs. NHTSA has defined a number of motor vehicle types 
in 49 CFR 571.3, including: passenger cars, multipurpose passenger 
vehicles (MPVs), trucks, buses, trailers, and motorcycles. For the most 
part, for purposes of objectivity and to facilitate the ability of 
manufacturers to know at the time of vehicle manufacture which FMVSS 
the vehicle must meet, and the ability of dealers knowing at the time 
of vehicle sale which vehicles may be sold, the agency seeks to define 
vehicles by their attributes and construction features rather than by 
their purported intended use.\46\ To make manufacturers' and dealers' 
responsibilities in meeting the Vehicle Safety Act as clear as 
possible, NHTSA sought to define ``motorcoach'' using reference to 
relevant visible attributes and construction characteristics rather 
than by the intended use of the vehicles, or some other factor 
determined after manufacture or sale.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \46\ An exception is the ``school bus'' definition, which is 
statutory in origin and which refers to the intended purpose for 
which the vehicle is sold.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    NHTSA reviewed various definitions used in motorcoach safety 
legislation. The Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act defines the term 
``motorcoach'' as the meaning given the term ``over-the-road bus'' in 
section 3038(a)(3) of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st 
Century (TEA-21).\47\ Section 3038(a)(3) of TEA-21 states that the term 
``over-the-road bus'' means a bus characterized by an elevated 
passenger deck located over a baggage compartment.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \47\ The Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act states also that the 
term does not include a bus used in public transportation provided 
by, or on behalf of, a public transportation agency; or a school 
bus, including a multifunction school activity bus.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    TEA-21's definitions also include the following:
     The term ``intercity, fixed-route over-the-road bus 
service'' means regularly scheduled bus service for the general public, 
using an ``over-the-road bus,'' that (a) operates with limited stops 
over fixed routes connecting two or more urban areas not in close 
proximity; (b) has the capacity for transporting baggage carried by 
passengers; and (c) makes meaningful connections with scheduled 
intercity bus service to more distant points.
     The term ``other over-the-road bus service'' means any 
other transportation using over-the-road buses including local fixed-
route service, commuter service, and charter or tour service (including 
tour or excursion service that

[[Page 70429]]

includes features in addition to bus transportation such as meals, 
lodging, admission to points of interest or special attractions or the 
services of a tour guide).
    We believed that the definitions referring to over-the-road buses 
or over-the-road bus service were too narrow for our purpose, because a 
number of intercity transport buses involved in fatal crashes were 
body-on-chassis buses that lacked an elevated passenger deck over a 
baggage compartment. The issue of body-on-chassis buses is discussed 
further below. Further, as explained above, definitions that were based 
on the intended use of the vehicle could pose difficulties for 
manufacturers and dealers, since the intended use of a vehicle might 
not be known at the time of vehicle manufacture or sale. We wanted to 
make sure as reasonably possible that the buses we most wanted to 
affect (high-capacity buses associated with known fatality and injury 
risks) would meet the ``motorcoach'' safety standards, without having 
to depend on the state of knowledge of persons in the manufacturing and 
distribution chain about the prospective use of the bus.
    We were also concerned that the meaning of some of the terms used 
in the above definitions was not sufficiently objective for use in the 
FMVSSs. Examples of these are: ``regularly scheduled,'' ``two or more 
urban areas not in close proximity,'' and ``meaningful connections . . 
. to more distant points.''
    Currently, there is no common Departmental or industry definition 
of ``motorcoach.'' FMCSA does not have a definition for motorcoach in 
its regulations, but it considers a ``motorcoach'' to be an over-the-
road bus. As noted above, over-the-road buses are a subset of the buses 
NHTSA believed should be regulated as ``motorcoaches,'' encompassing a 
part of but not enough of the heavy bus safety problem we seek to 
address.
    In developing criteria for defining motorcoaches, we also examined 
other countries' approaches. For countries that have adopted United 
Nations Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) regulations, motorcoaches 
are defined as Class III, M3 vehicles. Class III, M3 vehicles are 
defined as having occupant seating locations for more than 8 
passengers, vehicle weights in excess of 5 metric tons (11,023 lb) and 
are not designed to carry standing passengers. We consider this ECE 
definition too broad for us to use as a definition of motorcoach, as it 
captures vehicles that are not subject to today's lap/shoulder seat 
belt standard. The ECE definition includes vehicles that are not 
``buses'' under 49 CFR 571.3.\48\ Our discussion of the GVWR criterion 
is discussed further later in this section. Further, the reference to 
``not designed to carry standing passengers'' would not be sufficiently 
objective for our purposes, as people could reasonably disagree as to 
whether a particular design allowed or did not allow standees.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \48\ Under 571.3, a bus is designed to carry 10 or more 
passengers. Vehicles designed to carry fewer than 10 passengers are 
multipurpose passenger vehicles (MPVs) or passenger cars.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    We examined the terms used in FARS. The FARS database uses the 
following description of a motorcoach: ``Cross Country/Intercity Bus 
(e.g., Greyhound).'' Other descriptive information is also collected in 
the bus use sub-category, i.e., commuter, tour, scheduled service, 
shuttle, etc. For our purposes, as explained in the NPRM (75 FR at 
50970), the FARS bus body type definition for ``Cross Country/
Intercity'' and the use-based sub-categories are not appropriate. One 
problem is that these terms lack sufficient specificity. In addition, 
the use-based subcategories are problematic simply because they 
describe use and not physical characteristics, which limits their 
potential efficacy in determining the appropriate applicability of the 
FMVSS at time of vehicle manufacture and sale. The FARS designations 
are not clear enough to give manufacturers and dealers knowledge of the 
FMVSSs the bus must meet at the time of manufacture or sale of the 
vehicle.
    In developing the NPRM, NHTSA sought to develop a motorcoach 
definition as an expedient means of applying FMVSSs to the vehicles 
targeted by the agency's safety plan. The vehicles of interest were 
high-occupancy buses associated with a known fatality and injury risk. 
The buses typically carried a large number of passengers and were 
operated at highway speeds. Specific safety risks addressed by the 
NHTSA plan were the risks of ejection, prolonged emergency egress from 
the vehicles, fire risk, and structural vulnerability to roof loading 
in a rollover event.
    To develop a definition for application of these safety 
initiatives, we examined the involvement of high-occupancy buses \49\ 
in fatal crashes over a 10-year period (FARS data files, for the NPRM, 
1999-2008; for the final rule, 2000-2009). In this examination of high-
occupancy bus data, we inspected crash data for buses with a GVWR 
greater than 4,536 kg (10,000 lb). We analyzed the construction type 
and various attributes of the vehicles. The 2000-2009 FARS data show 
that for buses over 4,536 kg (10,000 lb), only 17 percent of the 
passenger fatalities were in buses with a GVWR less than 11,793 kg 
(26,000 lb), but that 83 percent of the fatalities were in buses with a 
GVWR greater than 11, 793 kg (26,000 lb).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \49\ Other than transit buses and school buses.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    We reviewed the underlying chassis structure of high-occupancy 
vehicles involved in fatal crashes. Some had a monocoque \50\ structure 
with a luggage compartment under the elevated passenger deck (``over-
the-road buses''). However, an elevated passenger deck over a baggage 
compartment was not an element common to the buses involved in fatal 
intercity transport. In FARS data for buses with a GVWR greater than 
11,793 kg (26,000 lb), 36 percent of the fatalities were in the other 
bus and unknown bus categories, i.e., not in the over-the-road bus 
category. Some buses were built using body-on-chassis configurations.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \50\ Monocoque means a type of vehicular construction in which 
the body is combined with the chassis as a single unit.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    We believe that body-on-chassis configurations are newer entrants 
into the motorcoach services market. They appear to be increasing in 
number. A cursory review of the types of buses being used in the 
Washington, DC area for motorcoach services showed that traditional 
motorcoaches are generally used for fixed-route services between major 
metropolitan areas. However, for charter, tour, and commuter 
transportation from outlying areas, many bus types are used. Some are 
of monocoque structure, while others are of body-on-chassis structure.
    The review of the FARS files performed for the NPRM also showed 
other characteristics that were common to high-occupancy buses involved 
in fatal crashes: 16 or more designated seating positions, and two or 
more rows of forward-facing seats that were rearward of the driver's 
seating position (i.e., this feature distinguishes the bus from a bus 
with perimeter seating).
    With this information, we included these criteria in the proposed 
definition, noting that the 16 or more capacity criterion also was 
consistent with FMCSA regulations for commercial driver's licenses. We 
intended the definition to include buses sold for ``intercity, tour, 
and commuter bus service'' (75 FR at 50970) and listed those types of 
service in the definition. We proposed to exclude school buses and 
urban transit buses from the definition, for reasons explained in the 
NPRM.

[[Page 70430]]

a. GVWR

    Approximately 11 commenters addressed the proposed GVWR criterion 
of 11,793 kg (26,000 lb) or greater. Some commenters expressed their 
support for the criteria proposed in the NPRM, including the 11,793 kg 
(26,000 lb) GVWR cut-off, without providing specific reasons for their 
agreement. Many commenters believed that the criterion should be 
lowered to 4,536 kg (10,000 lb) from 11,793 kg (26,000 lb).
    NTSB commented in favor of a 4,536 kg (10,000 lb) GVWR criterion, 
stating that ``all buses with a GVWR above 10,000 pounds should be 
defined and have standards addressing roof strength, occupant 
protection, and window glazing.'' NTSB stated that the 11,793 kg 
(26,000 lb) GVWR criterion in the motorcoach definition will exclude 
some medium-sized buses from the proposed lap/shoulder seat belt 
requirements while including other buses that ``are essentially the 
same.'' The commenter stated that medium-size buses should be 
categorized as motorcoaches because of the buses' interior design, use 
for tour operations, and seating capacity.
    The National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation 
Services, Safe Ride News, and Advocates for Highway Safety (Advocates) 
also supported lowering the GVWR criterion to 4,536 kg (10,000 lb). 
These commenters stated that the proposed definition would exclude 
buses that serve the same function and are similar in design to buses 
that transport many passengers on high-speed roads.
    Seat suppliers Freedman Seating Company (Freedman) and IMMI 
supported lowering the criterion to 4,536 kg (10,000 lb). Freedman 
stated that the definition of motorcoach proposed in the NPRM would 
leave a class of vehicles with a GVWR between 4,536 kg (10,000 lb) and 
11,793 kg (26,000 lb) that would not be required to have seat belts. 
Seat supplier American Seating suggested a GVWR criterion of 8,618 kg 
(19,000 lb) or greater in order to include vehicles of similar 
construction and design intent as ``motorcoaches.''
    Bus manufacturers IC Bus and MCI suggested various vehicle 
attributes and features of a ``traditional motorcoach'' for use in a 
definition (e.g., 40+ passenger seats, an elevated passenger deck over 
a baggage compartment, buses engaged in highway speed). These features 
are typically associated with over-the-road buses. Alternatively, IC 
Bus suggested that, if NHTSA believes there is a need to ``expand the 
motorcoach definition beyond what we would consider the traditional 
motorcoach,'' then IC Bus would support a mandate for seat belts on all 
forward-facing passenger seats on all buses with a GVWR over 10,000 lb, 
excluding urban transit buses and school buses. Similarly, MCI stated 
that the GVWR criterion should be lowered to include buses with a GVWR 
less than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb) if the vehicles are sold for and/or are 
engaged in highway speed operations that are the same as or similar to 
the typical operation as motorcoaches.
    United Motorcoach Association (UMA) commented in favor of applying 
the rulemaking to buses with a GVWR between 4,536 kg and 11,793 kg 
(10,000 lb and 26,000 lb), stating that these buses are being 
increasingly used in intercity charter and tour bus applications and 
have been in accidents.
Agency Response
    We begin by separating two entwined subjects addressed in the 
comments on the proposed definition. First is a matter about which 
buses should be called ``motorcoaches,'' and the second concerns the 
vehicles to which this rulemaking ought to apply.
1. Response to Comments on Looking Like A Traditional Motorcoach
    As to the first matter, some commenters were troubled that certain 
buses would be ``motorcoaches'' under the proposed definition when 
``motorcoaches'' were traditionally understood by various industry and 
user groups to be over-the-road buses (characterized by an elevated 
passenger deck located over a baggage compartment) and not trolley 
buses (buses configured to look like trolley cars), double-decker 
buses, buses using body-on-chassis design, entertainment buses, and the 
like. MCI, IC Bus, and UMA presented their arguments in a manner that 
appeared to reserve the term ``motorcoach'' for buses that they 
described as a ``traditional motorcoach,'' i.e., an ``over-the-road'' 
bus. IC Bus further recommended that ``motorcoach'' be defined as a 
``Class 8'' bus, which has a GVWR greater than 33,000 lb.
    Several commenters identified physical features \51\ of a 
``motorcoach'' that they believed would be helpful to use in a 
motorcoach definition, such as vehicle floor height (low or high 
height) (e.g., a passenger compartment that is more than 45 inches 
above the ground); engine location; body/chassis construction 
(monocoque versus body-on-chassis); 40 or more passenger seats; whether 
the bus has equipment for standees; center of gravity (CG), the number 
of entrance/exit doors, the presence of a lavatory, and the presence of 
three axles. Some of these features were suggested to distinguish 
motorcoaches from transit buses. Some appeared to be suggested by 
commenters seeking to avoid having their buses called motorcoaches.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \51\ Some commenters also suggested operating speed and where 
the bus is driven (such as exclusively in urban areas), but these 
features were not helpful. Since these issues relate to how the 
vehicle would be used, as discussed earlier, these use-based 
suggestions are not conducive toward determining the applicability 
of the FMVSSs during vehicle manufacture.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    After the NPRM, NHTSA and FMCSA met to determine whether it was 
necessary to define the term ``motorcoach'' in the final rule given the 
public comments and the types of buses NHTSA intended to cover under 
its rulemaking. Although FMCSA does not define the term motorcoach, it 
uses the term in its programs and many of its constituency groups have 
long understood the term ``motorcoach'' to mean an over-the-road bus. 
FMCSA informed NHTSA that defining ``motorcoach'' to mean buses other 
than over-the-road buses could cause some consternation among user 
groups (e.g., bus operators and inspectors) who are accustomed to 
thinking of a motorcoach as an over-the-road bus. For instance, if 
NHTSA considered all buses with a GVWR greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 
lb) ``motorcoaches,'' confusion in the field may arise as to whether 
FMCSA's in-use requirements for ``motorcoaches'' apply to the vehicles.
    Although each agency in DOT is able to define specific terms in 
their regulations that have legal relevance only in the context of that 
agency's regulations, NHTSA agrees that confusion should be avoided as 
reasonably possible over the use of the word ``motorcoach'' by the 
agencies of DOT.
    Thus, after evaluating the above information, we have made the 
following conclusions.
    NHTSA seeks to require passenger lap/shoulder seat belts in high-
occupancy buses that, according to accident data, are associated with 
an unreasonable risk of passenger fatality and injury due to ejection. 
Accident data indicate that these buses, which we proposed in the NPRM 
to call ``motorcoaches,'' are buses with a GVWR greater than 11,793 kg 
(26,000 lb). FARS data did not show that any feature other than GVWR--
such as floor height, seating capacity, CG, number of axles or 
emergency exits, body/chassis construction, or presence of a toilet--

[[Page 70431]]

was relevant in distinguishing these buses from buses that did not pose 
the increased fatality risk.
    As explained previously and in the NPRM, we believe that limiting 
the scope of this rulemaking only to ``traditional motorcoaches'' 
(over-the-road buses) would only be a partial, incomplete response to 
the safety problem. FARS data for 2000-2009 show that buses other than 
over-the-road coaches were involved in high speed crashes involving 
multiple passenger fatalities due to rollover, ejection and frontal 
impacts. FARS data show that 64 percent of the fatalities were in 
cross-country/intercity buses (traditional over-the-road type buses) 
and 36 percent were in the ``other bus'' and ``unknown bus'' 
categories. We do not find good reason to exclude from today's seat 
belt requirements buses that are of a similar size, seating 
configuration, and function as an over-the-road bus type, and that are 
associated with the same safety risk as an over-the-road bus, only 
because they have a non-traditional (e.g., body-on-chassis) design and 
appearance.
    To illustrate, the IC Bus HC Series is an example of large ``mid-
sized'' body-on-chassis bus that approaches the size of a traditional 
over-the-road motorcoach. This vehicle can be ordered with a GVWR up to 
13,608 kg (30,000 lb), an occupant capacity of 37 or 45, and an 
interior that has many of the same features as a traditional 
motorcoach. IC Bus advertises this bus on its Web site \52\ as suitable 
for tours, shuttle service, sports team transport, high-frequency 
trips, ski trips, church group transport, and scheduled route and 
transit service. The bus is advertised as having luxury features found 
on traditional motorcoaches, such as an audio-video entertainment 
system with DVD and AM/FM/CD stereo, overhead parcel rack with aircraft 
style air conditioning controls, reading light, plush seating, and 
availability of WiFi, satellite TV, and wide-screen television. In 
short, this bus can be ordered in a configuration which lends itself to 
use as a motorcoach with motorcoach features. There is no reason to 
believe that it poses a lesser ejection crash safety risk than a 
traditional over-the-road motorcoach. The main difference between this 
bus and an over-the-road bus is body-on-chassis construction and a 
dedicated luggage compartment in the rear.\53\ There are similarly 
sized buses from other manufacturers which even offer luggage storage 
under the passenger deck.\54\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \52\ www.icbus.com/ICBus/buses/commercial/hcseries/features. 
Last accessed July 10, 2012.
    \53\ Similar buses are being offered by several other 
manufacturers, including Turtle Top, Glaval Bus, Starcraft Bus, 
Krystal Koach, and Thor Industries and their subsidiaries.
    \54\ www.turtletop.com/OdysseyXLT/Options.aspx.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    An elevated passenger deck over a baggage compartment was not an 
element common to the buses involved in fatal crashes. We believe it 
would be short-sighted for our regulation to refer to an under-
compartment storage location for baggage as determinative of the 
applicability of this regulation since a separate storage location has 
been irrelevant to distinguishing the buses' involvement in fatal 
crashes. Also, tour buses are frequently equipped with just an overhead 
rack for passengers to store personal belongings. Some buses offer the 
baggage compartment as an option to the purchaser.
    We also determined that a self-contained toilet was only prevalent 
on long distance travel buses and was not present in all tour or 
commuter buses. Other equipment such as reading lights, video displays, 
ventilation ports and adjustable seat backs were also not common to all 
motorcoach type buses. Accordingly, identifying a motorcoach by the 
presence of these features could exclude many of the buses that have 
been in fatal crashes over the years. We also wanted to avoid a 
definition that could be easily circumvented by persons seeking to have 
their buses excluded from the motorcoach category. Such a definition 
would be one that specified that a motorcoach is a vehicle with a 
feature that a manufacturer could readily leave off of the vehicle.
    Yet, after reviewing the comments, the information from FMCSA, the 
Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act, and other information, we have decided 
to adopt a different approach to apply the requirements of this final 
rule than defining ``motorcoach'' as proposed in the NPRM. We have 
determined it is unnecessary to define the term to accomplish our 
rulemaking objectives, and that it is simpler not to define the term at 
all.
    In the NPRM, the agency's proposed definition basically sought to 
apply FMVSS No. 208's passenger lap/shoulder belt requirements to buses 
with a GVWR greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb), excepting certain bus 
types. After reviewing the comments, we decided that if those excepted 
bus types were defined (e.g., transit bus, school bus \55\), a 
preferred approach would be to simply apply FMVSS No. 208's 
requirements to buses with a GVWR greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb) 
and exclude those excepted bus types.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \55\ ``School bus'' is already defined in 49 CFR 571.3.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    After passage of the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act, it became 
necessary to modify this approach slightly for buses meeting the Act's 
over-the-road bus definition. The Act does not place a 11,793 kg 
(26,000 lb) lower limit on over-the-road buses, and does not permit 
other than lap/shoulder belts on designated seating positions in those 
buses. With the Act's provisions in mind, we decided to apply FMVSS No. 
208's requirements separately to over-the-road and to non-over-the-road 
buses. This is the approach adopted by this final rule.
    This approach is preferable to the NPRM's approach for several 
reasons. Some commenters had trouble reconciling the traditional view 
of a motorcoach with our proposed definition of a motorcoach and were 
confused or perplexed that a bus they had never considered to be a 
motorcoach would be a motorcoach under the regulation. We decided that, 
with people having pre-conceived ideas of what a ``motorcoach'' is or 
should be, it is best not to use the traditional term to describe a 
nontraditional universe of buses. This approach accords with plain 
writing principles.
    Some manufacturers objected to having their buses called 
motorcoaches and having them subject to this rulemaking. In reality, it 
does not matter for the application of the standard what name we called 
the vehicles. The term was intended as an abbreviated way to apply the 
seat belt requirements to the buses that crash data indicate need seat 
belts, i.e., buses with a GVWR greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb). 
After considering the comments, we decided we did not need to use the 
term ``motorcoach'' to accomplish our rulemaking objectives, and that 
it was best to avoid adopting a definition of ``motorcoach'' that 
differed from a commonly held understanding of the term.
    This approach is also more practical than the NPRM's because of 
enactment of the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act, which refers 
specifically to over-the-road \56\ buses without a limitation on GVWR, 
and calls specifically for lap/shoulder belts at all designated seating 
positions on these vehicles. To our knowledge, all buses 
``characterized by an elevated passenger deck located over a baggage 
compartment'' currently manufactured in the U.S. have GVWRs

[[Page 70432]]

greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb). It also does not seem likely that 
an ``over-the-road'' bus would be produced in the future with a GVWR 
under 4,536 kg (10,000 lb). However, markets change, and we are aware 
of buses apparently meeting the ``elevated passenger deck located over 
a baggage compartment'' description with GVWRs below 11,793 kg (26,000 
lb) being sold for use in other countries. Thus, to ensure that all 
over-the-road buses in the U.S. in the future are equipped with lap/
shoulder belts at all designated seating positions, we are adopting the 
TEA-21 definition of over-the-road bus and explicitly applying today's 
regulation to that bus type, as well as to buses other than over-the-
road buses with GVWRs greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb). This approach 
not only ensures that Congress's intent to enhance the safety of over-
the-road buses is realized now and in the future, but better attains 
our overarching goal under the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle 
Safety Act of enhancing the safety of intercity buses used for 
motorcoach transportation.\57\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \56\ An over-the-road bus is statutorily defined as ``a bus 
characterized by an elevated passenger deck located over a baggage 
compartment.'' See section 3038 of the Transportation Equity Act for 
the 21st Century (49 U.S.C. 5310 note).
    \57\ Furthermore, another practical advantage is this approach 
enables us to refine the requirements of today's final rule in a 
clearer manner. We read the Motorcoach Enhancement Safety Act as 
limiting the final rule's allowance of lap belts on over-the-road 
buses. We have more discretion for other bus types, and we have used 
our discretion, as appropriate, to allow lap belts for side-facing 
seats on non-over-the-road buses, and to exclude certain buses 
(e.g., prison buses) from requirements for seat belts.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Thus, we are amending FMVSS No. 208 to require lap/shoulder belts 
at all seating positions on: (a) Over-the-road buses; and (b) non-over-
the-road buses with a GVWR greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb) (with the 
exception of excluded bus types). By extending FMVSS No. 208 to these 
vehicles, we are also extending associated requirements to the seat 
belt systems on the vehicles, such as the FMVSS No. 210 anchorage 
strength requirements. This approach makes the applicability of the 
amended FMVSS No. 208 requirements very clear. Under today's final 
rule, if the bus is an over-the-road bus, the seat belt system 
requirements apply. If the bus is not an over-the-road bus, if its GVWR 
is greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb), the seat belt system 
requirements apply unless the bus is in an excluded category of bus 
(transit bus, school bus, perimeter-seating bus, prison bus). This 
clear-cut approach accords with plain writing principles.
    Today's approach is more aligned with NTSB H-10-002 than a 
situation where the term ``motorcoach'' had different meanings in the 
NHTSA and FMCSA programs. Today's approach avoids potential confusion 
among the public that might result from a NHTSA definition of 
``motorcoach'' that differed from the understanding of the FMCSA 
community or from the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act.
    Accordingly, for the reasons discussed above, this final rule does 
not adopt a ``motorcoach'' definition. It amends FMVSS No. 208 to apply 
seat belts and associated requirements at all seating positions and 
thereby applies the FMVSS No. 210 anchorage strength requirements to 
over-the-road buses, and to non-over-the-road buses with a GVWR greater 
than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb) with the exception of certain excluded bus 
types.
    As indicated above, the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act also directs 
the Secretary to consider various other motorcoach rulemakings aside 
from today's final rule, and directs us to conduct those rulemakings in 
accordance with the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act. We 
note that in future rulemaking actions targeted at over-the-road buses 
and other large buses taken pursuant to these statutory authorities, 
there might be a need for the agency to clarify one or more descriptive 
parameters in the definition of over-the-road bus, such as the terms 
``elevated'' and ``baggage compartment'' in deciding the applicability 
of the amended rules. Clarification might be needed so as to avoid 
possible conflict among the Federal motor vehicle safety standards for 
buses of various types and weights, or to make the applicability of a 
standard easier to understand.
2. On Lowering the GVWR Criterion
    The second matter of concern expressed in the comments was: To 
which vehicles should this rule apply. Many comments expressed the 
position that, since the agency is undertaking a rulemaking to install 
lap/shoulder belts on all seats of large buses, now is the time to 
require installation of such belts on all buses.\58\ It seemed that 
some commenters wanted the GVWR criterion lowered from 11,793 kg 
(26,000 lb) to 4,536 kg (10,000 lb), so that when belts are required 
and other safety efforts are initiated for ``motorcoaches,'' the seat 
belts and safety improvements would be required for all buses.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \58\ FMVSS No. 208 requires lap/shoulder belts for all seats on 
buses with a GVWR of 4,536 kg (10,000 lb) or less. It also requires 
lap belts at the driver seat of buses with a GVWR greater than 4,536 
kg (10,000 lb).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    This final rule requires all over-the-road buses to have lap/
shoulder belts without reference to GVWR, in accordance with the 
Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act. For buses other than over-the-road 
buses, this rule adopts the GVWR criterion of 11,793 kg (26,000 lb) 
\59\ and does not lower it to 4,536 kg (10,000 lb). Our reasons for not 
lowering the GVWR criterion for buses other than over-the-road buses 
are discussed below.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \59\ This final rule slightly changes the proposed GVWR 
criterion ``GVWR of 11,793 kg (26,000 lb) or greater'' to ``GVWR 
greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb).'' The change referring to the 1-
lb difference was made to make the GVWR cut-off more consistent with 
the regulations of FMCSA, which use a criterion of ``26,001 lb'' in 
its definition of ``commercial motor vehicle.'' See 49 CFR 383.5.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    This rulemaking originated to focus on the risk of fatality 
associated with ``motorcoaches,'' which NHTSA's 2007 Motorcoach Safety 
Plan had called intercity transport buses. This rulemaking was not 
intended to address whether seat belts should be required on buses 
regardless of vehicle weight class. This final rule also responds to 
the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act, which requires NHTSA to issue a 
final rule ``requiring safety belts to be installed in motorcoaches'' 
within one year after date of enactment of the Act. Congress was aware 
of the August 2010 NPRM preceding this final rule, and the short 
timeframe provided by the Act indicates that Congress was aware that 
NHTSA intended this rulemaking to be focused on heavy buses and that 
Congress wanted NHTSA to complete it quickly.
    The decision to focus this rulemaking on buses with a GVWR greater 
than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb) is data-driven. In developing this 
rulemaking, NHTSA analyzed accident data that identified unique safety 
risks affecting buses that were not sufficiently addressed by the 
current FMVSSs. These risks include the risks of occupant ejection, 
prolonged emergency egress from the vehicles, and structural 
vulnerability to roof loading in a rollover event.
    As to which buses posed these risks, we examined accident data from 
a 10-year period to see which buses were involved in fatal crashes, the 
type of crashes that caused the harm, and the specific mechanics of the 
injury-causing event. FARS data showed that most passenger fatalities 
involved buses with a GVWR of more than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb). This 
final rule applies the seat belt regulation to these buses associated 
with that risk.
    The decision to focus this rulemaking on buses with a GVWR greater 
than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb) is based on a sound and focused agency 
policy. NHTSA established the 2007 ``NHTSA's Approach to Motorcoach 
Safety'' plan after a comprehensive review of safety issues associated 
with bus

[[Page 70433]]

transportation and the course of action that the agency could pursue to 
address them, as well as projects that should be priority actions. Many 
considerations were factored into determining the priorities, 
including: cost and duration of testing, development, and analysis 
required; likelihood that the effort would lead to the desired and 
successful conclusion; target population and possible benefits that 
might be realized; and anticipated cost of implementing the ensuing 
requirements into the motorcoach fleet. The agency has focused today's 
rulemaking on the subject buses (GVWR above 11,793 kg (26,000 lb)) to 
achieve the specific goals of NHTSA's 2007 plan efficiently and 
expeditiously.
    Expanding this rulemaking into a major undertaking on seat belts on 
all buses would delay issuance of this final rule and the benefits 
attained, which would not accord with the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety 
Act. We believe that a belt requirement for buses with a GVWR of 4,536 
kg to 11,793 kg (10,000 lb to 26,000 lb) is an important issue, our 
understanding of which would benefit from a fuller discussion of 
related issues. We would like to consider more fully matters related to 
the current and future use of the buses, belt use, any technical 
issues, and the benefits and costs of a belt requirement. Also, as the 
majority of manufacturers of ``mid-size buses'' (between 10,000 and 
26,000 lb GVWR) are small businesses, a separate action on mid-size 
buses might result in many small businesses commenting on the 
initiative, with NHTSA gaining more information from participation of 
these entities in the rulemaking process.
    In support of its argument that the GVWR criterion should be 
lowered to include buses with a GVWR greater than 4,536 kg (10,000 lb), 
NTSB provided data from the crashes of two body-on-chassis buses (both 
with a GVWR between 4,536 kg and 11,793 kg (10,000 lb to 26,000 lb) as 
evidence of a safety need to lower the GVWR weight limit to 4,536 kg 
(10,000 lb). These crashes resulted in a total of 10 fatalities in 2009 
and 2010. As discussed above, the information from NTSB prompted NHTSA 
to perform a revised data review, to include data from the ``other 
bus'' and ``unknown bus'' FARS bus categories, both at the 4,536 kg to 
11,793 kg (10,000 lb to 26,000 lb) and over 11,793 kg (26,000 lb) GVWR 
levels.\60\ The updated data from the three FARS bus categories 
continue to show that buses with a GVWR between 4,536 kg and 11,793 kg 
(10,000 lb to 26,000 lb) do not constitute a large part of the overall 
safety problem that we were addressing in the ``NHTSA's Approach to 
Motorcoach Safety Plan.'' (In this discussion, when we refer to the 
FARS data for buses, we are excluding transit bus and school bus body 
types, for the reasons discussed in the NPRM.)
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \60\ See the previous discussion of this issue in the section 
titled, ``Updated FARS Data.'' For the NPRM, only data from the 
``cross-country/intercity'' FARS bus category were analyzed, as 
NHTSA had thought that this cross-country/intercity FARS bus 
category contained the relevant data.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    As discussed in the earlier section of this preamble, ``Updated 
FARS Data,'' the new analysis showed that from 2000 through 2009, there 
were 251 occupant fatalities in buses with a GVWR greater than 4,536 kg 
(10,000 lb). Only 42 (17 percent) of these occupant fatalities occurred 
in buses with a GVWR between 4,536 kg and 11,793 kg (10,000 lb to 
26,000 lb). In contrast, 209 (83 percent) occupant fatalities were in 
buses with a GVWR greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb). Among the 137 
fatalities occurring in rollover crashes in buses with a GVWR greater 
than 4,536 kg (10,000 lb), 114 (83 percent) were in buses with a GVWR 
greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb).\61\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \61\ Notwithstanding the agency's determinations about limiting 
the GVWR limit for non-over-the-road buses, this final rule also 
responds to the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act. That Act requires 
lap/shoulder belts on over-the-road buses and provides no explicit 
limit on GVWR. As mentioned earlier, we are not aware of any over-
the-road bus being sold in the U.S. with a GVWR below 11,793 kg 
(26,000 lb). Thus, as a practical matter, the buses affected by this 
final rule are buses with a GVWR greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    NHTSA has examined the benefits and costs of our final rule in 
accordance with the principles for regulatory decision-making set forth 
in Executive Orders (E.O.) 12866 and 13563, and has made decisions 
consistent with those orders. Fatalities and injuries in transit buses 
and in mid-size buses (between 10,000 and 26,000 lb GVWR) were also 
examined by NHTSA after receiving the comments, to obtain a higher-
level view of the occupant protection provided by buses generally. The 
FRIA provides these analyses for informational purposes.\62\ Although 
it appears that the likely cost per equivalent life saved for mid-size 
buses will be much greater than the $6.3 million value of a statistical 
life guideline in ($2008) at least for the present and near future, we 
would like to continue to examine the need for seat belts on these 
buses in a future context that will allow more time to conduct this 
examination than that provided by the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act 
for this final rule.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \62\ For the FRIA analysis, we estimate that there are 
approximately 14,600 mid-size buses (between 10,000 and 26,000 lb 
GVWR) produced and sold annually for purposes other than school 
transportation and transit services. We assume for purposes of our 
analysis that the average mid-size bus has 24 passenger seats. The 
average per vehicle costs are estimated at $7.54 for the driver 
position and $937.68 for the passenger positions. The total fleet 
cost to install lap/shoulder belts on these vehicles is estimated to 
be $13.8 million and the additional fuel costs would be 
approximately $6.9 to $9.4 million. We estimate that 0.02 to 0.2 
driver lives (1 to 12 injuries) and 0.3 to 1.71 passenger lives (28 
to 153 injuries) would be saved annually (0.67 to 4.96 total 
equivalent lives) by a seat belt requirement applying to mid-size 
buses, assuming the effectiveness of belts on mid-size buses is 
equal to that we estimate for belts on buses with a GVWR greater 
than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb). The cost per equivalent life saved is 
estimated to range between $0.3 to $1.2 million for drivers, $4.6 to 
$35.5 million for passengers and $4.2 to $33.7 for all occupants 
(assuming a seat belt use rate of 50 percent to 83 percent for 
drivers and 15 percent to 83 percent for passengers).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Accordingly, as we have shown in this section, in developing this 
final rule, we are applying this rule to high-occupancy buses that have 
a high involvement in fatal crashes, generally, and in fatal rollover 
crashes involving ejection, particularly--i.e., buses with a GVWR 
greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb). In doing so, we are mitigating the 
vast majority of fatalities Congress intended to address in the 
Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act, and which NHTSA has targeted in the 
2007 ``NHTSA's Approach to Motorcoach Safety'' plan, in a focused and 
expedited manner.\63\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \63\ This final rule does not prohibit the voluntary 
installation of passenger seat belts in buses with a GVWR between 
4,536 kg and 11,793 kg (10,000 lb to 26,000 lb).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

b. Sixteen Designated Seating Positions

    The proposed ``motorcoach'' definition included a provision that 
one of the attributes of a motorcoach is that it has 16 or more DSPs. 
This reference was to make the definition similar to FMCSA's definition 
of a ``commercial motor vehicle,'' for purposes of FMCSA's commercial 
driver's license (CDL) requirements.
Comments
    Some commenters (e.g., Freedman Seating Company, and MCI) 
recommended that the number of DSPs be reduced to fewer than 16. 
Freedman and MCI's comments were related to their suggestion that the 
rule should be applied to smaller buses. Turtle Top's comment 
highlighted the increased complexity and possible confusion that a ``16 
or more DSPs'' provision could create in specifying vehicle types.
Agency Response
    Under FMCSA's regulations, buses with a GVWR greater than 11,739 kg 
(26,000 lb) are commercial motor vehicles under the CDL regulation,

[[Page 70434]]

regardless of the number of DSPs.\64\ Since this final rule does not 
lower the GVWR criterion, the number of DSPs on a bus with a GVWR 
greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb) is of no consequence for purposes of 
CDL requirements. Thus, the comments are moot, and the ``16 or more 
DSPs'' provision is unnecessary and may only add confusion regarding 
the requirements for buses with a GVWR greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 
lb), especially those with only 10 to 15 DSPs. We have deleted the 
provision.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \64\ Pursuant to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety 
Administration's Commercial Driver's License Standards at 49 CFR 
383.3, persons are required to obtain and hold a CDL if they operate 
in interstate, foreign or intrastate commerce if they operate a 
vehicle that meets any of the classifications of a ``commercial 
motor vehicle'' (CMV) where CMV is defined at 49 CFR 383.5 as 
follows:
    ``Commercial motor vehicle (CMV) means a motor vehicle or 
combination of motor vehicles used in commerce to transport 
passengers or property if the motor vehicle--
    (1) Has a gross combination weight rating or gross combination 
weight of 11,794 kilograms or more (26,001 pounds or more), 
whichever is greater, inclusive of a towed unit(s) with a gross 
vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight of more than 4,536 
kilograms (10,000 pounds), whichever is greater; or
    (2) Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight of 
11,794 or more kilograms (26,001 pounds or more), whichever is 
greater; or
    (3) Is designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including 
the driver; or
    (4) Is of any size and is used in the transportation of 
hazardous materials as defined in this section.''
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

c. At Least 2 Rows of Forward-Facing Seats Rearward of the Driver's 
Seat

    The proposed ``motorcoach'' definition included a provision that 
one of the attributes of a motorcoach is that it has ``at least 2 rows 
of passenger seats, rearward of the driver's seat, that are forward-
facing or can convert to forward-facing without the use of tools.'' 
This reference was to distinguish ``motorcoaches'' from buses with 
perimeter seating, such as those used to transport passengers in 
airports between the terminal and locations such as a rental car 
facility or long term parking.
    Buses with perimeter seating usually have a single forward-facing 
row of seats at the back of the vehicle and seats along one or both 
sides of the bus. Passengers sitting along the side of the bus face the 
longitudinal centerline of the vehicle, usually with their backs toward 
the windows. Buses with perimeter seating are used to carry people for 
a relatively short period, typically are meant to transport standees, 
and are spacious to accommodate baggage and other carry-on items and to 
maximize the speed of passenger boarding and alighting. Passengers are 
expected to board and disembark the bus quickly, with large baggage and 
other belongings; the buses are on a tight operating schedule. We 
proposed to exclude buses with perimeter seating because we believed 
that they are used for relatively short rides, and are used on set 
routes and are not widely exposed to general traffic. Also, because of 
the nature of the transport (frequent and quick loading and unloading 
of passengers), and the roads on which they generally travel, passenger 
seat belts in such buses are not as needed or likely to be worn by 
passengers.
Comments
    Advocates suggested that passenger-carrying commercial motor 
vehicles should not be excluded from the ``motorcoach'' definition 
simply on the basis of ``the arrangement of designated, forward-facing 
seating positions.'' Other commenters supported placing seat belts on 
airport shuttles.
    MCI commented changing the criterion from ``at least two rows of 
passenger seats'' to ``at least 8 seating positions.''
    Turtle Top thought the motorcoach definition proposed in the NPRM 
implied that motorcoaches can have 16 DSPs with only two rows of seats, 
requirements it thought were conflictive. IC Bus, American Seating, and 
IMMI commented that all seats in motorcoaches should be required to be 
forward-facing.
Agency Response
    The Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act directs NHTSA to ``prescribe 
regulations requiring safety belts to be installed in motorcoaches at 
each designed seating position.'' ``Safety belts'' mean lap/shoulder 
belts (see section 32702(12) of the Act) and ``motorcoach'' means 
``over-the-road bus'' (a bus characterized by an elevated passenger 
deck located over a baggage compartment) but does not include a bus 
used in public transportation provided by, or on behalf of, a public 
transportation agency, or a school bus (see section 32702(6) of the 
Act). In response to the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act, this final 
rule requires lap/shoulder belts at each designated seating position in 
over-the-road buses, even if the bus has perimeter seating.\65\
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    \65\ The Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act's mandate to require 
seat belts to be installed in over-the-road buses at each designated 
seating position applies to niche vehicles, such as a vehicles often 
referred to as a ``limo bus'' or ``party bus,'' to the extent that 
the ``limo buses'' are based on an ``over-the-road'' bus design. 
Another type of niche vehicle is the touring/entertainment bus that 
is a modified over-the-road bus, with eating and sleeping 
accommodations, used by some celebrities and entertainers when 
touring the country. Additional comments and discussion related to 
these two niche bus types can be found in section VIII.d.3. To the 
extent that these niche vehicles are body-on-frame construction (not 
over-the-road buses) they could qualify to be exempted as perimeter-
seating buses. Also, some of these vehicles may not be buses at all 
if they have less than 10 passenger DSPs (11 total DSPs, including 
the driver).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    For buses other than over-the-road buses (typically body-on-frame 
construction), we have decided to exclude buses with perimeter seating 
for the reasons discussed in the NPRM and summarized above. However, we 
are simplifying the language of the standard since the proposed 
language describing a bus of this type was not well understood or clear 
enough.
    We wish to note, before beginning our discussion, that we received 
a comment from the family of a man who was permanently disabled in a 
crash of an airport shuttle bus with perimeter seating. The comment 
supported having belts on these buses. We have carefully considered the 
comment but we are unable to concur with its recommendation to require 
seat belts on these buses.\66\ In our decision-making on safety 
regulations, our decisions must be practical, fair, reasonable and 
necessary. The available accident data indicate that fatalities and 
serious injuries in crashes of airport shuttle-type buses of GVWRs 
greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb) with perimeter seating do not happen 
with a frequency that enables us to conclude that the affected buses 
with perimeter seating should be required to have seat belts. However, 
in the future, if data indicate a need for seat belts, we will be 
willing to revisit this issue.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \66\ This discussion assumes that the bus is not an over-the-
road bus.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Simplified Language
    The following discussion relates to buses other than over-the-road 
buses. It does not apply to over-the-road buses. The Motorcoach 
Enhanced Safety Act requires over-the-road buses to have safety belts, 
so we have therefore defined ``perimeter-seating bus'' as not including 
an over-the-road bus.
    The proposed regulatory text that sought to exclude airport 
shuttle-type buses with perimeter seating was not well understood by 
commenters. To clarify it, we are simplifying the language describing 
perimeter-seating buses in two ways. First, we are changing the format 
of the regulatory text. As noted above, the NPRM attempted to specify 
what a motorcoach has or does not have (as proposed in the NPRM, a 
motorcoach had to have at least 2 rows of forward-facing passenger 
seats--i.e., a bus with fewer than 2 rows of forward-facing seats was a 
perimeter-

[[Page 70435]]

seating bus and not a ``motorcoach''). We have decided it is easier to 
define ``perimeter-seating bus,'' and then exclude perimeter-seating 
buses from FMVSS No. 208's seat belt requirements.
    Second, we have defined a perimeter-seating bus by referring to the 
maximum number of forward-facing DSPs the vehicle may have, rather than 
the number of ``rows'' the vehicle may have. This is along the lines 
suggested by MCI. We are making this change because we have found it 
difficult to define the term ``row'' for purposes of today's amendments 
using plain language.
    FMVSS No. 226, ``Ejection mitigation'' (49 CFR 571.226) has a 
definition of row, but that definition does not work entirely well with 
regard to motorcoach seating configurations.\67\ For example, assuming 
the forward-facing seating positions in a bus is divided by an aisle, 
the forward-facing seating positions on the left half of the bus may 
not align with the seats on the right half. This lack of alignment may 
occur when there is a parcel rack, junction box, door, or some other 
element of the bus' design that is located on only one side of the bus. 
These elements may shift placement of seats on that side of the bus, so 
that the seats do not align with seats on the other side (when viewed 
from the side of the bus, as specified by FMVSS No. 226).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \67\ We have defined ``row'' in Federal Motor Vehicle Safety 
Standard (FMVSS) No. 226, ``Ejection mitigation.'' (See 49 CFR 
Section 571.226. ``Row'' means ``a set of one or more seats whose 
seat outlines do not overlap with the seat outline of any other 
seats, when all seats are adjusted to their rearmost normal riding 
or driving position, when viewed from the side.'') That standard's 
definition of row is not suited to our goals for today's rulemaking. 
The reason is that ``row'' in FMVSS No. 226 is defined so that any 
seats that overlap when viewed from the side are considered to be in 
a single row, i.e., a row does not end until there is a clear 
separation between seats. This has the effect of minimizing the 
number of rows in a vehicle, which works well for FMVSS No. 226 
because it maximizes the window area required to be covered with an 
ejection mitigation countermeasure. However, for motorcoaches, if 
the seats are configured so that when viewed from the side, there is 
no separation between any seats, the entire seating of the bus would 
be considered one row. Thus, the bus would not be considered to have 
two rows of forward-facing seats, and therefore, contrary to the 
goal of this rulemaking, would not be a ``motorcoach.''
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    After reviewing the comments, we have decided that an easier 
approach is to define ``perimeter-seating bus'' by referring to a 
maximum number of forward-facing passenger DSPs allowed under the 
exclusion. Under the NPRM, a bus that has two or more rows of forward-
facing passenger seats is potentially a ``motorcoach.'' Since there are 
typically 4 forward-facing passenger DSPs in a row on a motorcoach, 
there are 8 forward-facing DSPs in two rows. Thus, the equivalent of 
saying that a motorcoach has at least 2 rows of forward-facing seats is 
to say that a motorcoach has at least 8 forward-facing DSPs.
    In other words, to be excluded from the affected class as a 
perimeter-seating bus, the bus has to have 7 or fewer forward-facing 
passenger DSPs.\68\ This final rule adopts the following term in FMVSS 
No. 208 to describe a perimeter-seating bus: A ``perimeter-seating 
bus'' is a bus that has 7 or fewer designated seating positions 
rearward of the driver's seating position that are forward-facing or 
can convert to forward-facing without the use of tools.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \68\ The NPRM did not intend to count the driver's seat in 
consideration of what is a row. Likewise, we conclude that the 
driver's seat does not count toward the 7 forward-facing DSPs.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The maximum number of forward-facing DSPs that can fit side-by side 
in a vehicle 2.6 meters (102.36 inches) \69\ wide is 5. This is 
calculated assuming a minimum DSP width of 450 millimeters (17.7 
inches, as specified at 49 CFR 571.3). Thus, a ``perimeter-seating 
bus'' can have a forward-facing row along the rear wall (5 DSPs) and up 
to 2 other forward-facing seats behind the driver. Another example is a 
bus that has some side-facing seats and 3 pairs of seats forward-
facing. Under today's rule, as long as the number of forward-facing 
passenger DSPs is 7 or fewer, the vehicle is a perimeter-seating bus 
and is excluded from the requirements of this rule.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \69\ According to the Federal Highway Administration's 
regulations at 23 CFR 658.15, the maximum width limit for commercial 
motor vehicles (CMVs) operating on the National Network (NN) is 102 
inches, or its approximate metric equivalent of 2.6 meters (102.36 
inches), except for Hawaii where it is 2.74 meters (108 inches).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    We recognize that this approach allows a manufacturer to install up 
to 7 individual forward-facing seats (not including the driver's seat) 
scattered throughout a bus, and does not require that there be a single 
row of 5 forward-facing DSPs along the back of the bus. Nonetheless, in 
limiting the number of forward-facing DSPs to 7 for the bus to be 
considered a perimeter-seating bus, we believe the definition is 
clearer and easier to understand than one referring to rows, and 
adequately describes a bus with primarily side-facing (perimeter) 
seats.\70\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \70\ Some commenters thought that the provision in the proposed 
definition referring to ``at least two rows of forward-facing 
seats'' was an attempt to require all seats to be forward-facing. We 
did not intend to propose such a requirement, nor are we aware of 
safety data showing a need for such a requirement.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

d. Treatment of Various Bus Types and Configurations Under the Final 
Rule

    We stated in the NPRM that we intended the motorcoach definition to 
include buses that are sold for intercity, tour, and commuter bus 
service (75 FR at 50970). In an effort to be as clear and 
straightforward as possible that buses sold for intercity, tour, and 
commuter bus service would be motorcoaches, the proposed regulatory 
text for the motorcoach definition included the following statement: 
``Motorcoach includes buses sold for intercity, tour, and commuter bus 
service. . . .'' We did not exclude shuttle buses generally, but 
requested comment on whether shuttle buses should be excluded from the 
proposed definition.
1. Shuttle Buses
    We received varied comments on whether ``shuttle buses'' should be 
motorcoaches.
    Safe Ride News, Advocates, the National Association of State 
Directors of Pupil Transportation Services and some individuals 
supported requiring ``shuttle buses'' to have seat belts. They believed 
that these vehicles are often in continuous service and can travel on 
high speed roads, and can match the risk exposure to ejection risk of 
intercity or over-the-road buses.
Agency Response
    The following discussion relates to buses other than over-the-road 
buses. It does not apply to over-the-road buses. The Motorcoach 
Enhanced Safety Act requires over-the-road buses to have lap/shoulder 
belts.
    We have decided that there will not be a general exclusion of 
``shuttle buses'' from the coverage of this final rule. Comments and 
agency observations indicate that there is not a clear meaning of the 
term ``shuttle bus.'' We agree with the United Motorcoach Association 
that ``shuttle bus'' covers a potentially broad range of uses and bus 
types. The term can apply to a myriad of commercial passenger vehicles 
in diverse road and highway exposures. An internet search for buses and 
services associated with ``shuttle buses'' resulted in vehicles that 
range from vans to over-the-road buses, transporting passengers over 
distances of less than a mile to over 100 miles.
    Further, FARS data (2000-2009) indicated that for buses with a GVWR 
greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb) and having bus body types other than 
the excluded categories of transit and school bus, shuttle bus use 
constituted 22.5 percent of fatalities. Accordingly, we are not 
excluding shuttle buses from today's final rule.

[[Page 70436]]

    Freedman suggested that ``shuttle bus'' should be defined as it is 
in FMVSS No. 225 (49 CFR 571.225),'' Child restraint anchorage systems: 
``a bus with only one row of forward-facing seating positions rearward 
of the driver's seat.'' We note the FMVSS No. 225 definition of 
``shuttle bus'' describes a bus that is classified as a ``perimeter-
seating bus'' in today's final rule (see above section).
2. Trolley and Double-Decker Sightseeing Buses
    The NPRM's proposed regulatory text for the motorcoach definition 
stated that ``motorcoaches'' included ``buses sold for . . . tour . . . 
bus service. . . .''
Comments
    Coach USA commented that sightseeing buses called ``trolleys'' 
(which are buses designed to look like a trolley car on tires) and 
``double-deckers'' (buses with two levels of passenger seating, one 
above the other, some with the top level open and some with both levels 
enclosed) operate similarly to transit buses and should be excluded 
from the definition of ``motorcoach.'' The commenter stated that 
``[t]hese buses do not operate with passengers on highways, but rather 
the buses transport passengers exclusively on urban streets, do not 
exceed about 25 mph, and make frequent stops . . .'' Both Coach USA and 
the American Bus Association (ABA) suggested that the motorcoach 
definition exclude buses ``sold for urban sightseeing transportation 
with frequent stops.'' ABA also recommended that low-floor buses that 
are used exclusively within urban areas, such as what the commenter 
said were intra-city double-decker sightseeing buses, be excluded from 
the motorcoach definition for the same reasons expressed by Coach USA.
Agency Response
    We have decided against excluding trolley-type buses and both open 
and closed top double-decker sightseeing buses from the application of 
today's final rule.
    Regarding trolley-type buses (trolley buses), the agency is 
concerned that the vehicles are manufactured as buses and are fully 
capable of being operated at highway speeds. Trolley buses also have 
overly-large window openings and can be and are at times operated with 
the windows open, which exacerbates the ejection risk. Seat belts for 
the passengers will meet a safety need.\71\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \71\ We assume that the trolley buses at issue are not transit 
buses. Transit buses are excluded from coverage of today's final 
rule.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Regarding closed top double-decker sightseeing buses, no feature of 
the vehicle would prevent these buses from being operated in the same 
manner as double-decker buses operated on the highways, such as those 
operated by Megabus between major metropolitan areas of the Northeast 
corridor. Further, Van Hool's distributor advertises Van Hool double-
decker buses for intercity bus service.\72\ The vehicles can and are 
being used just like an over-the-road bus for intercity and tour 
services. (We note that, if a vehicle meets the definition of an over-
the-road bus, i.e., if there is a baggage compartment under the 
elevated passenger deck, the bus must have lap/shoulder belts under the 
Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act.)
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \72\ See, http://www.abc-companies.com/models/TD925.asp. Last 
accessed July 12, 2012.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Regarding open-top double-decker buses, the vehicles are 
manufactured as buses and are fully capable of operating at highway 
speeds. We have observed these buses on high-speed freeways, with 
passengers, as they make their way into Washington, DC. We note that 
passengers on the top deck of an open-top double-decker bus face unique 
risks compared to other buses. A collision at a relatively low speed or 
an unexpected maneuver may expose passengers to an ejection risk. There 
is even a risk of injury simply to stand up while the vehicle is in 
operation.\73\ (We note again that, if a vehicle meets the definition 
of an over-the-road bus, i.e., if there is a baggage compartment under 
the elevated passenger deck, the bus must have lap/shoulder belts under 
the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act.)
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \73\ On July 11, 2008, two passengers of an open-top double-
decker bus were killed when they stood as the bus went under an 
overpass on an interstate highway in Washington, DC. A similar 
incident occurred on May 30, 2009 near Mattoon, IL, which also 
killed two passengers.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Excluding ``sightseeing buses'' would not be reasonable. ``Sight-
seeing buses'' generally are not distinguishable from over-the-road and 
heavy body-on-frame buses. They are manufactured as buses and are 
capable of and are used on high speed roads. The sights to which they 
travel may be far distances apart. Travelers are often riding on a 
particular bus for lengthy tours and may ride the bus over long 
distances over highways. The buses may pose unique ejection risks if 
they also have overly-large window openings. Seat belts for the 
passengers will meet a safety need. (If the bus meets the definition of 
an over-the-road bus, i.e., if there is a baggage compartment under the 
elevated passenger deck, the bus must have lap/shoulder belts under the 
Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act.)
3. Limousine and Entertainment Buses, Buses With Multiple Wheelchair 
Positions
    Turtle Top described three bus configurations (GVWR greater than 
11,793 kg (26,000 lb)) that may be ordered with fewer than 16 DSPs and 
asked whether they would be covered under the then-proposed motorcoach 
definition. Two of these bus configurations are the limousine and 
touring coach. Our answer is the limousine and touring/entertainment 
coaches are subject to today's seat belt requirements if they are over-
the-road buses, regardless of seating capacity and regardless of GVWR, 
under the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act. If the buses are not over-
the-road buses, they are subject to the final rule if they have a GVWR 
greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb), and have 8 or more forward-facing 
DSPs rearward of the driver's position. We assume that the vehicles 
meet the definition of a ``bus,'' which is defined in the Motorcoach 
Enhanced Safety Act and our regulations as ``a motor vehicle with 
motive power, except a trailer, designed for carrying more than 10 
persons.'' (See section 32702(2) of the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act 
and 49 CFR 571.3.)
    The third bus configuration Turtle Top asked about is ``a coach 
that has many wheelchair positions and not many seats.'' The coach is 
subject to today's seat belt requirements if it is an over-the-road 
bus, regardless of seating capacity and regardless of GVWR, under the 
Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act. The designated seating positions on the 
bus (not the wheel chair positions) must have lap/shoulder belts.
    If the bus is not an over-the-road bus, the following discussion 
applies. NHTSA has interpreted the DSP definition such that wheelchair 
seating positions are not DSPs and thus are not required to comply with 
Federal motor vehicle safety standards that apply to DSPs, such as the 
requirement in this final rule to have seat belts. However, we have 
said that wheelchair positions are counted in determining vehicle 
seating capacity for the determination of the type classification of a 
vehicle.\74\ Accordingly, a vehicle would be subject to today's seat 
belt requirements if it has a GVWR greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb), 
8 or more forward-facing DSPs or wheelchair positions rearward of the 
driver's position, and at least 10 passenger DSPs or wheelchair 
positions total.\75\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \74\ http://isearch.nhtsa.gov/gm/78/nht78-3.31.html.
    \75\ We assume the bus is not a school bus. There are different 
provisions for school buses (see, the DSP definition in 49 CFR 
571.3, and FMVSS No. 222).

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 70437]]

4. Military Ambulances
    Blue Bird described a military ambulance bus that it provides to 
the General Services Administration (GSA) that is equipped with seats 
that fold down to allow transport of litters for the wounded. Blue Bird 
asked that the agency exclude this type of bus from the motorcoach 
definition and thus from the lap/shoulder seat belt requirements for 
passenger seats.
    In response, 49 CFR 571.7(c) specifies that, ``No standard applies 
to a vehicle or item of equipment manufactured for, and sold directly 
to, the Armed Forces of the United States in conformity with 
contractual specifications.'' It is not clear, but it is possible that 
the sale Blue Bird describes is covered under 571.7(c). If the sale is 
not covered by 571.7(c) and if the bus is an over-the-road bus, it is 
required to have seat belts. If the ambulance bus is not an over-the-
road bus, if the ambulance bus has 7 or fewer forward-facing DSPs 
rearward of the driver's position, it is excluded from the requirements 
of this final rule.
5. Prison Buses
    MCI, Blue Bird and Turtle Top asked that vehicles designed to 
transport prisoners be excluded from the formerly-proposed 
``motorcoach'' definition. The commenters stated that these vehicles 
are often equipped with small porthole style windows or metal screens 
over existing windows, segregation cells, and fiberglass or stainless 
steel low-back seats or benches (to optimize supervision and 
observation) that are specially designed to be impervious to human 
fluids and to have no crevices. The interior of the bus is designed to 
provide an enhanced view of detainees by law enforcement officers and 
to be free of loose articles that can be used as weapons and tools, 
such as a seat belt assembly. Commenters stated that since the 
detainees are often in restraints, the use of seat belts is impractical 
in most cases. They noted that for reasons related to the unique needs 
and purposes of prison buses, prison buses are currently excluded from 
emergency exit and other requirements of FMVSS No. 217, ``Bus emergency 
exits and window retention and release.''
Agency Response
    The agency agrees with MCI, Blue Bird, and Turtle Top that 
passenger seats on buses designed for the transport of passengers under 
physical restraint should be excluded from the amended FMVSS No. 208 
requirements adopted today. The necessary features of the bus--
fiberglass or stainless steel low-back seats or benches--are 
incompatible with installation of seat-mounted lap/shoulder belts. 
Further, according to the commenters, lap/shoulder belt equipment pose 
hazards as the buckle hardware and belt webbing could cause harm as 
weapons or tools. In addition, it is unlikely that the prisoners will 
be able to buckle themselves in, as their hands are usually handcuffed.
    Accordingly, this final rule excludes buses other than over-the-
road buses from the requirement to provide passenger seat belts on a 
``prison bus'' for the reasons above. This final rule defines ``prison 
bus'' as follows: ``Prison bus'' means a bus manufactured for the 
purpose of transporting persons subject to involuntary restraint or 
confinement and has design features consistent with that purpose. This 
definition is based on a definition used in FMVSS No. 217. However, 
because these practical reasons do not apply to the driver's seating 
position, the driver's seating position is required to have lap/
shoulder belts as proposed in the NPRM. For the same reason, any 
passenger seat opposite (not rearward of) the driver's seat is also 
required to have a lap/shoulder belt since that seat is not usually 
used by a prisoner.
    For over-the-road buses, the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act 
requires over-the-road buses to have safety belts at each designated 
seating position. The driver's seating position must be equipped with a 
lap/shoulder belt. With regard to the passenger seats, we agree that 
the seats and safety belts could pose sufficient risk to the safety of 
guards and detainees that compliance with the final rule for passenger 
seating positions could result in an overall reduced level of safety 
compared to prison buses without the belts. Prison bus purchasers 
seeking to avoid installation of passenger safety belts due to concerns 
about the guards' safety should consider buses other than over-the-road 
buses. If an over-the-road bus is a necessity, the bus manufacturer 
could apply for an exemption from the requirements of this final rule 
under 49 CFR Part 555, presenting information that the applicant is 
unable to sell a bus whose overall level of safety is at least equal to 
that of a non-exempted vehicle.\76\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \76\ 49 CFR 555.6(d). The number of exempted vehicles sold in 
the U.S. in any 12-month period is limited to 2,500 vehicles, 49 CFR 
555.6(d)(4). The exemption is limited to a period of 2 years by 49 
CFR 555.8(b) but applications for renewal of the exemption are 
automatically granted if filed within 60 days before termination of 
the exemption and do not terminate until the Administrator grants or 
denies the application for renewal. 49 CFR 555.8(e).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

e. Transit Buses

    In the NPRM, based on an analysis of FARS data, we proposed that 
``motorcoach'' would not include ``an urban transit bus sold for 
operation as a common carrier in urban transportation along a fixed 
route with frequent stops.'' Our analysis of FARS data showed that, for 
buses with a GVWR greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb), the bus body type 
with the fewest fatalities at 8.2 percent was ``transit buses.'' We 
tentatively determined that, due to a lack of a safety need, it was 
warranted to exclude transit buses from the class of affected vehicles 
(motorcoaches) to which the lap/shoulder seat belt requirements would 
apply.
Comments
    In general, most of the bus and seat manufacturers commented that 
the definition needs to better distinguish between the affected 
vehicles and ``transit buses.'' In general, the public transit agencies 
described three types of operations that cover most of the major 
services they provide.\77\ These were: (a) ``Urban transit'' service, 
characterized by fixed route operation with frequent stops; (b) 
``express'' service, characterized by fixed route operation that is 
similar to, but with less frequent stops than traditional urban transit 
service, and with potentially short portions of the route on the 
highway; and, (c) ``commuter express'' or ``premium express'' service, 
characterized by longer routes with a significant portion on the 
highway, with either single or frequent stops at each end of the route, 
and no or few intermediate stops.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \77\ The public transit agencies also asked use-related 
questions, such as whether passengers would be required to wear 
their seat belts, how would standing passengers (standees) benefit 
from seat belts, and whether standees would be permitted. Since this 
final rule does not require belts for transit buses, and because the 
NPRM did not broach these issues at all, NHTSA sees no need to 
discuss these issues in this final rule.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) expressed its 
concern that the proposed ``motorcoach'' definition may confuse public 
transportation agencies, bus manufacturers, and the riding public. APTA 
explained that the term ``urban'' in the proposed definition would not 
exclude all buses used in fixed route transit service with frequent 
stops, ``fixed route'' would not exclude transit buses that are used 
for route-deviated services with frequent stops (i.e., service that 
conforms to riders' requests,

[[Page 70438]]

although still operating with frequent stops), and ``frequent stops'' 
may be interpreted to exclude express service (i.e., urban transit 
service with less frequent stops, although still operated on city 
streets). APTA suggested that the transit bus exclusion in the proposed 
definition be replaced with the following: ``. . . [except] a transit 
bus designed and procured for operation in public transportation other 
than an over-the-road-bus as defined by the U.S. Department of 
Transportation.''
    Turtle Top was concerned that the term ``urban transit bus'' is not 
defined in the FMVSSs, and was concerned that a given bus could have 
both over-the-road and urban transit applications.
    IC Bus stated that ``to properly exclude `urban transit bus' from 
proposed motorcoach bus definition, it is our opinion that it may not 
be possible to define a `motorcoach' without including the vehicle's 
intended use, or vocation.'' IC Bus followed this statement by 
presenting to the agency an option to define motorcoach based solely on 
vehicle attributes and features. The features IC Bus presented were 
essentially those of an over-the-road bus. The American Bus Association 
(ABA) suggested NHTSA refer to the ``low-floor'' feature of urban 
transit buses in defining the buses, but did not define ``low floor.'' 
Gillig, a transit bus manufacturer, and most of the public transit 
agencies that commented, recommended that buses sold for or used to 
provide public transportation services, regardless of configuration, be 
excluded from the ``motorcoach'' definition. Gillig suggested that we 
adopt the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) definition of ``urban 
bus'' in 40 CFR 86.091-02.
Agency Response
    This final rule excludes transit buses from today's lap/shoulder 
seat belt requirements because fatality data for urban transit buses 
differ significantly from that of other buses with a GVWR greater than 
11,793 kg (26,000 lb). We believe this difference is due in part to the 
stop-and-go manner of transit bus operation. Updated FARS data from 
2000-2009 continue to show that for all bus body types with a GVWR 
greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb), transit buses have the fewest 
fatalities at 8.2 percent or 23 out of a total of 281. These same data 
show that there were 20 fatal crashes involving occupants of urban 
transit buses, resulting in fatalities of 11 drivers and 12 were 
passengers. Thus, fatal transit bus crashes involve about one fatality, 
on average. In summary, there are many fewer total fatalities and 
fatalities per crash for transit buses, and thus a significantly lower 
risk than in the buses covered by this final rule.
    We have not found a safety need justifying a lap/shoulder seat belt 
requirement for transit buses. To the extent commenters believe there 
is a safety need, this issue was not explored sufficiently in the NPRM. 
We discuss the issue of seat belt requirements for the driver seat of 
transit buses in section XIV of this notice.
    Many commenters were troubled that the proposed definition was not 
sufficiently clear in distinguishing ``transit buses'' from the buses 
that do need lap/shoulder seat belts. We agree and have adjusted the 
proposed definition as follows:
     We made the regulatory text clearer in describing a 
``transit bus'' by referring to a structural feature (a stop-request 
system) that buses must have to be a ``transit bus.'' A ``stop-request 
system'' means a vehicle-integrated system for passenger use to signal 
to a vehicle operator that a stop is requested.
     We expanded the description of a transit bus by 
recognizing that a transit bus could be sold for public transportation 
provided not only by, but also on behalf of, a State or local 
government, for example, by a contractor.
     We made clearer that over-the-road buses do not qualify as 
``transit buses,'' even if the over-the-road bus has a stop-request 
system or is sold for public transportation provided by or on behalf of 
a State or local government.\78\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \78\ The Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act excludes a bus used in 
public transportation provided by, or on behalf of, a public 
transportation agency from its meaning of ``motorcoach.'' However, 
we are applying this final rule to over-the-road buses used for 
public transportation based on determinations we have made pursuant 
to NHTSA's Vehicle Safety Act authority, 49 U.S.C. 30111, which has 
existed and continues to exist prior to and separate from the 
Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act provisions. The Motorcoach Enhanced 
Safety Act does not indicate an intent by Congress to limit NHTSA's 
rulemaking authority under the Vehicle Safety Act to issue 
regulations for vehicles not covered by the Motorcoach Enhanced 
Safety Act. We believe that the Act provides a minimum ``floor'' for 
this regulation's scope, and not a ``ceiling'' to its reach. Thus, 
the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act calls out a regulation for 
``over-the-road buses'' without limiting our authority under the 
Vehicle Safety Act to regulate other buses as appropriate, including 
over-the-road buses used in public transportation.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    This final rule adopts the following definition of ``transit bus'' 
and associated terms.
    ``Transit bus'' means a bus sold for public transportation provided 
by, or on behalf of a State or local government, that is equipped with 
a stop-request system and that is not an over-the-road bus. ``Stop-
request system'' means a vehicle-integrated system for passenger use to 
signal to a vehicle operator that they are requesting a stop. ``Over-
the-road bus'' means a bus characterized by an elevated passenger deck 
located over a baggage compartment.
    IC Bus suggested that we define motorcoach based solely on vehicle 
attributes and features. We support the idea of using vehicle 
attributes and features but the features IC Bus presented were 
essentially those of an over-the-road bus. We will not adopt an 
approach that narrowly limits the applicability of this final rule to 
over-the-road buses. In fact, as discussed below, our intent has been 
to make sure that over-the-road buses used for transit service do not 
get excluded from this rulemaking. We have not adopted the ABA's 
suggestion to refer to the ``low-floor'' feature of urban transit buses 
in defining the buses. Among other things, there is a lack of 
objectivity in the term, ``low-floor.''
    We disagree with Gillig and others suggesting that buses sold for 
or used to provide public transportation services, regardless of 
configuration, be excluded from coverage of the rule. We have decided 
not to use the ``urban bus'' definition in 40 CFR 86.091-02 because 
several of its terms are not specific enough for FMVSS purposes. 
Moreover, we are concerned that some attributes of the definition would 
exclude buses that should be included in this rulemaking, over-the-road 
buses. Gillig suggested that we adopt the California Air Resources 
Board (CARB) clarification of ``urban bus.'' We have decided not to do 
so, because CARB's definition would exclude commuter buses (over-the-
road buses), which we intended to include in the definition of 
``motorcoach.''
    It was NHTSA's intent in the NPRM to require lap/shoulder seat 
belts on ``over-the-road'' buses operated by transit agencies. Over-
the-road buses used by transit agencies and over-the-road buses used by 
private companies for intercity transport both carry large numbers of 
passengers over long distances, and at highway speeds. Given the 
occurrence of a crash, the risk of fatality is the same for both groups 
of buses. It is not uncommon to see commuter express buses traveling on 
the highway alongside privately-operated tour and charter buses of 
nearly identical construction. We acknowledge that the public transit 
agencies' safety record for operating commuter express service is 
better than the safety record shown by some private sector operators. 
However, given the overall similarity of the buses in construction and 
use, we cannot distinguish, from a public safety standpoint, good 
reasons for requiring

[[Page 70439]]

passenger lap/shoulder seat belts in only privately-operated versions 
of the commuter express buses when the risk of rollover in a crash, 
risk of fatal or serious injury in a rollover, and risk of fatal or 
serious injury in all crashes are the same for both groups of 
buses.\79\
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    \79\ We also note that many commuter express buses are sold to 
private operators when the public transit agencies turn over their 
fleets. An advantage to having passenger seat belts on the buses is 
that when these commuter express buses are eventually turned to 
private service, the used buses will have passenger seat belts on 
them.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    To address confusion about the transit bus exclusion, in this final 
rule we have decided to adopt a more objective, simple description of 
``transit bus.'' As suggested by APTA, we removed the terms ``fixed 
route'' and ``frequent stops'' since those terms are not sufficiently 
clear in meaning. In place of these terms, we have incorporating a 
reference to a structural feature which is present for transit 
operation along a route that makes frequent stops, a ``stop-request 
system.'' The terms are no longer needed since a bus with a ``stop-
request system'' will likely be making frequent stops and thus operated 
in a stop-and-go manner.
    We have removed the phrase ``. . . operation as a common carrier . 
. .'' and added instead the phrase ``public transportation provided by, 
or on behalf of, a State or local government.'' This is similar to 
APTA's suggestion, but adds additional, important detail. We have also 
added language that makes clear that an ``over-the-road bus'' does not 
qualify to be a transit bus, even if it has a stop-request system. We 
added text that defines ``over-the-road bus'' as in section 3038(a)(3) 
of TEA-21. Section 3038(a)(3) of TEA-21 states that the term ``over-
the-road bus'' means a bus characterized by an elevated passenger deck 
located over a baggage compartment.
    Gillig stated that transit buses are ``used interchangeably in 
commuter and inter-city service with infrequent stops and on fixed 
routes with frequent stops.'' The commenter stated that our proposal 
had the effect of ``requir[ing] transit properties to know at the time 
they place an order for a bus what specific service the bus will be put 
into during its entire 12 year life, so that it can be configured 
appropriately.'' We believe that the revised language adopted today 
resolves the uncertainty to which Gillig refers. Transit procurers 
purchasing a new bus with a GVWR greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb) 
will know this: (a) If the bus is an over-the-road bus, it will have 
passenger lap/shoulder seat belts; (b) if it is not an over-the-road 
bus, and the bus lacks a stop-request system, it will have passenger 
lap/shoulder seat belts.

f. School Buses

    NHTSA stated in the NPRM that the initiation of rulemaking to 
require passenger lap/shoulder seat belts on motorcoaches was not meant 
to imply that seat belts are needed in school buses with GVWRs greater 
than 4,536 kg (10,000 lb) (``large school buses'') (75 FR at 50978). 
The preamble referred to an October 21, 2008 Federal Register document 
\80\ that had explained NHTSA's decision against requiring seat belts 
on large school buses. Nevertheless, a number of commenters suggested 
that passenger seat belts be mandated for these buses.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \80\ 73 FR 62744, October 21, 2008. Response to petitions for 
reconsideration, 75 FR 66686, October 29, 2010.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    On August 25, 2011, we again addressed this issue in a separate 
matter, denying petitions for rulemaking to mandate passenger seat 
belts on large school buses (76 FR 53102).
    The issue of seat belts in school buses has been thoroughly 
discussed in the two Federal Register documents cited above. This issue 
is outside the scope of this rulemaking and will not be further 
discussed in today's final rule.

g. Agency Observations

    We reiterate the observation made earlier in this preamble that it 
appears that one of the problems with the NPRM regulatory text was that 
it proposed a definition of ``motorcoach'' using a traditional term 
(``motorcoach'') to describe a nontraditional universe of buses. As a 
result, some readers were confused or perplexed that a bus they had 
never considered to be a motorcoach would be a motorcoach under the 
regulation. Buses can be configured in all sorts of nonconventional 
ways to meet a host of functions. After reading the comments, we were 
concerned that each new nontraditional bus configuration could yield 
ambiguity on the part of the builder and operator--``Is this really a 
motorcoach?''--because to some, the traditional term will occasionally 
not ``fit'' some nontraditional bus design.
    We also observed that the statement: ``Motorcoach includes buses 
sold for intercity, tour, and commuter bus service,'' seemed to confuse 
rather than clarify because some commenters were apparently reading it 
as inclusive rather than illustrative. Many commenters asked about 
motorcoach services not mentioned in the clause, such as ``special 
operations'' (e.g., casino services), airport express services, 
contract services for business or government, and ``charter'' service, 
wondering if these services were excluded. Greyhound pointed out that 
the clause was confusing and suggested that NHTSA remove it and instead 
limit the motorcoach definition to visible attributes and construction 
characteristics, while accommodating the exclusions of transit buses 
and school buses.
    We agree with Greyhound on this matter. Rather than causing the 
confusion associated with the NPRM's use of the term ``motorcoach,'' 
this final rule simply extends the FMVSS No. 208 requirements, and the 
FMVSS No. 210 requirements which follow from that, to all new over-the-
road buses, and to new non-over-the-road buses with a GVWR greater than 
11,793 kg (26,000 lb), except for very few bus types. This approach 
simplifies the regulatory text and makes it easier for the public to 
understand the applicability of the amended requirements. This accords 
with plain language principles.

IX. Requiring Seat Belts at Passenger Seating Positions

    The NPRM proposed to amend FMVSS No. 208 to require the 
installation of lap/shoulder seat belts at all passenger seating 
positions on buses with a GVWR greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb) (a 
class proposed in the NPRM as ``motorcoaches''). NHTSA issued the 
proposal to address the risk of ejection on ``motorcoaches,'' 
particularly in rollover crashes, and to improve occupant crash 
protection in all crashes, particularly frontals. Based on the VRTC 
examination of the effect that lap/shoulder seat belts had in a full-
scale barrier crash of a motorcoach and in subsequent sled testing, 
NHTSA decided to propose requiring lap/shoulder seat belts at all 
forward-facing and rear-facing seats. The VRTC frontal crash test 
program showed that lap/shoulder belts at forward-facing seating 
positions were effective at preventing critical head and neck injury 
values from being exceeded, whereas dummies in lap-only belts in 
forward-facing seats measured HIC and Nij values surpassing critical 
thresholds. The NPRM proposed that the performance of the lap/shoulder 
belt anchorages be tested to FMVSS No. 210, as is the case with all 
other vehicles where seat belts are required.
    On July 6, 2012, the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act was signed, 
directing NHTSA to ``prescribe regulations requiring safety belts to be 
installed in motorcoaches at each designed seating position.'' Under 
the Act, ``safety belts'' mean lap/shoulder belts (see section 
32702(12) of the Act)

[[Page 70440]]

and ``motorcoach'' means ``over-the-road bus'' (a bus characterized by 
an elevated passenger deck located over a baggage compartment) but does 
not include a bus used in public transportation provided by, or on 
behalf of, a public transportation agency, or a school bus (see section 
32702(6) of the Act).

Comments

    Many commenters soundly supported the proposal to require lap/
shoulder belts for motorcoach passengers. These included: NTSB, 
Consumers Union, Advocates for Highway Safety, Center for Auto Safety, 
National Association of Bus Crash Families/West Brook Bus Crash 
Families, groups representing pediatricians and child passenger safety 
advocates, and school bus transportation organizations. Seat suppliers 
IMMI and American Seating, and the Automotive Occupant Restraints 
Council supported the proposal, as did 31 of approximately 42 private 
individuals who commented.
    Motorcoach transportation providers were divided in their reaction 
to the proposed requirement for lap/shoulder seat belts for passengers. 
The operators of the larger fleets in the industry were generally 
supportive of the proposal. As noted below, there were concerns 
expressed by providers about costs associated with the upkeep and 
maintenance of seat belts and enforcement of belt use.
    Many commenters did not support the proposal.
    The majority of smaller transportation providers opposed having 
seat belts for passenger seating positions. Most of these commenters 
cited the excellent overall safety record for their industry, increased 
cost, low belt use rate, and difficulties in enforcing seat belt use. 
About 30 submitted a form letter that stated that the costs associated 
with a retrofit requirement would put many companies out of business 
since they are already operating at or close to a loss.
    Also opposed to the proposal were 10 individuals who generally 
cited the low annual number of motorcoach fatalities, possible low seat 
belt use rate, perceived poor comfort, difficulty of enforcing use, and 
a belief that the cost per life saved was high. Many suggested that 
efforts should be placed on ``more meaningful'' safety reforms than 
seat belts, such as driver training programs, limiting the driver's 
operating hours and/or distance traveled between breaks, and monitoring 
driver performance.
    The People Republic of China (PRC) suggested that seat belts be 
required only in the first row or any forward seat without ``obvious 
shielding'' and remain optional for all other passenger seating 
positions. The commenter suggested that passengers in other rows will 
have seat backs in front of them to shield them and thus it is 
unreasonable to assume that these passengers will be ejected because 
there is no seat belt. PRC also stated many passengers may not use lap/
shoulder belts since ``the motorcoach is a public transportation tool, 
travelling at relatively slow speed, and most of the passengers travel 
on shorter routes, going on and off frequently.'' \81\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \81\ The last sentence seems to be describing transit bus 
transportation. [Footnote added.]
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Bus manufacturers generally did not overtly support or oppose the 
proposal, but most expressed concern about one or more aspects of it. 
MCI believed that the NPRM's foundation for a claim of enhanced 
rollover protection is ``significantly speculative and not based on 
demonstrated fact,'' and that NHTSA should conduct more research on 
this. Turtle Top asked that seat belts be a safety option. Blue Bird 
indicated that it supported NHTSA's efforts but asked that NHTSA 
exclude buses that met Federal school bus roof crush and occupant 
protection (lap belt) requirements. Several European bus manufacturers 
(Van Hool, Setra) stated that the FMVSS No. 210 seat belt anchorage 
requirement will cause seat backs to be too rigid, and suggested we 
adopt European belt anchorage requirements instead.\82\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \82\ Issues related to FMVSS No. 210 will be addressed in a 
later section of this preamble.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Agency Response

    In 1999, 2004, and 2008, the country experienced a series of 
catastrophic heavy bus crashes.\83\ May 1999--bus crash outside of New 
Orleans, Louisiana, 9 ejections, 22 fatalities and 16 serious injuries. 
October 2004--crash of a 47-passenger bus near Turrell, Arkansas, 30 
ejections, 14 passenger fatalities and the driver. January 2008--crash 
of a bus near Mexican Hat, Utah, 50 ejected and 9 fatalities. August 
2008--crash of a bus carrying 54 passengers near Sherman, Texas, 17 
fatalities. October 2008--crash of a bus heading from Sacramento, 12 
ejected, 10 fatalities, over 30 injured.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \83\ These and other heavy bus crashes were summarized in the 
NPRM at 75 FR 50964-50965.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    These crashes, and others, involved buses of the very types we are 
covering under today's final rule.
    Some commenters believe that if the buses had seat belts, ``it is 
likely . . . [friends and family members and others] would be alive 
today,'' \84\ while others believe that a claim of enhanced rollover 
protection due to seat belts is ``significantly speculative.'' Some 
commenters suggested that the NPRM represents ``too much solution for 
not enough problem,'' \85\ and that it targets an ``insignificant 
problem'' (``twice as many Americans are killed each year by fire ants 
[than on motorcoaches]'' \86\). Some did not think a seat belt 
requirement was worthwhile because they doubted the seat belts would be 
worn.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \84\ National Association of Bus Crash Families/West Brook Bus 
Crash Families, October 18, 2010.
    \85\ NHTSA-2010-0112-0009.
    \86\ NHTSA-2010-0112-0001.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    We issued this final rule in accordance with the Vehicle Safety Act 
and the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act. We carefully assessed the 
safety need for the standard. NHTSA prescribes motor vehicle safety 
standards that protect the public against unreasonable risk of 
accidents occurring because of the design, construction, or performance 
of a motor vehicle, and against unreasonable risk of death or injury in 
an accident. In prescribing this standard, we considered all relevant, 
available motor vehicle safety information, and considered whether a 
standard is reasonable, practicable, and appropriate for the types of 
motor vehicles for which it is prescribed.
    In issuing this final rule, NHTSA considered the relevant, 
available motor vehicle safety information, without speculation or 
conjecture. After considering all relevant, available safety 
information, we determined that the standard is warranted. We have 
assessed the benefits and costs of this final rule, both quantitative 
and qualitative, and have made a reasoned determination that its 
benefits justify its costs. In addition, the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety 
Act directs that over-the-road buses must have ``safety belts'' (lap/
shoulder belts).
    We have found an unreasonable risk of death or injury that will be 
addressed by this final rule. Although fatal crashes of the affected 
vehicles do not occur frequently, when serious crashes do occur, these 
can cause a significant number of fatal or serious injuries in a single 
event, most often due to rollover and ejection, but also due to 
passengers colliding with objects or structures within the bus. From 
2000-2009 FARS data, 55 percent of the fatalities in fatal crashes of 
the affected vehicles were in rollovers. The vast majority of 
fatalities in rollovers were ejections. Forty-two percent of fatalities 
are in frontal crashes. While serious crashes resulting

[[Page 70441]]

in occupant fatality do not occur frequently, when they do occur in the 
affected vehicles, passengers are exposed to heightened risks of 
rollover and ejection and harm from collision.
    There is a reasonable and practicable way to reduce the risk of 
fatality or injury in crashes of the covered vehicles. The risk of 
ejection can be reduced by seat belts, a simple, effective, and 
relatively inexpensive countermeasure. Lap/shoulder seat belts are 
estimated to be 77 percent effective \87\ in preventing fatal injuries 
in rollover crashes and 82 percent in preventing AIS 2-5 severity 
injuries, primarily by preventing ejection. Moreover, we estimate that 
even at a minimum passenger seat belt usage rate of only 4 to 5 
percent, the rule will remain cost effective. The availability, cost, 
and effectiveness of this countermeasure render the risk of death or 
injury in a serious crash of the affected vehicles unreasonable. As a 
result of this rule, when the covered buses are involved in the serious 
crash, the risk of death or injury to passengers will be significantly 
reduced.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \87\ Estimated based on Kahane, ``Fatality Reduction by Safety 
Belts for Front-Seat Occupants of Cars and Light Trucks,'' December 
2000, Washington, DC, National Highway Traffic Safety 
Administration. We are applying the effectiveness of lap/shoulder 
belts in rear outboard seating positions of passenger cars as a 
proxy measure for the effectiveness of lap/shoulder belts in 
motorcoaches. Real-world data are not available for the 
effectiveness of lap/shoulder belts in motorcoaches.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Lap/shoulder seat belts reduce the risk of occupant fatality and 
injury when the occupants are not ejected. Nearly half of the 
fatalities (45 percent) in the covered vehicles are in non-rollover 
crashes, and more than half of these are not ejected. In light 
vehicles, lap/shoulder belt effectiveness for fatalities is estimated 
to be 29 percent in frontal crashes, 42 percent in side crashes; for 
injuries of AIS 2-5 severity level, it is 34 percent in frontal crashes 
and 47 percent in side crashes. Id. In our seat belt test program 
conducted pursuant to the 2007 ``NHTSA's Approach to Motorcoach 
Safety'' plan, lap/shoulder belts prevented elevated head and neck 
injury values and provided enhanced occupant protection compared to lap 
belted and unbelted configurations. Hence, available safety information 
indicates that lap/shoulder belts will reduce the risk of death and 
injury in non-rollover crashes as well.
    Motor vehicle safety information from the best available research 
programs demonstrates further a sound scientific basis supporting this 
final rule.
    Data from VRTC's December 2007 full-scale vehicle crash test show 
that lap/shoulder seat belts have a significant effect in a 48 
kilometers per hour (30 miles per hour) frontal barrier crash test. All 
belted test dummies remained securely fastened in their motorcoach 
seats, while the unbelted dummies were typically ejected from their 
seats and ended up in the aisle or in the seats in front of them (75 FR 
at 50967). The agency followed up the full-scale barrier test by 
conducting sled tests (laboratory crash simulations) using a 
representation of the crash pulse from the barrier test. In the sled 
tests, we evaluated the bus seats without seat belts, the seats with 
lap/shoulder belts, and the seats with lap only belts. We tested the 
seats with different size dummies and in frontal and oblique (15[deg]) 
impact configurations and with and without loading by unrestrained 
occupants in the rear seat. The results showed that lap/shoulder belts 
prevented critical head and neck injury values from being exceeded in 
almost all configurations using the crash pulse from the bus barrier 
test.
    In addition, data from full-vehicle rollover tests demonstrate the 
efficacy of lap/shoulder seat belts in even \1/4\-turn bus 
rollovers.\88\ The tests followed a protocol modeled after the Economic 
Commission for Europe Regulation No. 66 (ECE R.66) \89\ full-vehicle 
\1/4\-turn rollover test. The ECE R.66 test tips the bus using a 
platform that raises one side of the bus at a steady rate of not more 
than 5 degrees/second until the vehicle reaches its unstable 
equilibrium, commences a quarter-turn rollover, and strikes a hard 
surface. (The rollover test is illustrated below in Figure 5).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \88\ National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, ``ECE 
Regulation 66 Based Research Test of Motor Coach Roof Strength, 1992 
MCI MC-12 Motor Coach, NHTSA No.: CN0801,'' May 20, 2008; National 
Highway Traffic Safety Administration, ``ECE Regulation 66 Based 
Research Test of Motor Coach Roof Strength, 1991 Prevost LeMirage 
Motor Coach, NHTSA No.: CM0801,'' May 20, 2008; and National Highway 
Traffic Safety Administration, ``ECE Regulation 66 Based Research 
Test of Motorcoach Roof Strength, 2000 MCI 102-EL3 Motor Coach, 
NHTSA No.: MY0800,'' October 1, 2009.
    \89\ Uniform Technical Prescriptions Concerning The Approval of 
Large Passenger Vehicles With Regard to the Strength of Their 
Superstructure.

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[[Page 70442]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR25NO13.004

    In three tests we conducted, fully-instrumented Hybrid III 50th 
percentile adult male test dummies were positioned in aisle seats 
opposite the impact side, with one dummy unrestrained and the other 
restrained by a seat-integrated lap/shoulder belt. In all three tests, 
the restrained dummies remained secured to the seat and produced injury 
values significantly below FMVSS No. 208 Injury Assessment Reference 
Values (IARVs) for the Hybrid III 50th percentile adult male test 
dummy. In contrast, the unrestrained dummies fell head first across the 
occupant compartment and struck the bottom of the luggage compartment 
and/or the side windows, which produced injury values well above the 
IARVs in two of the tests. Injury values for the restrained dummies 
never exceeded 40 percent \90\ of the IARV, while the injury values for 
the unrestrained dummies reached levels up to 590 percent of the IARVs. 
Alarmingly too, the final resting position of the unrestrained dummy in 
all three tests was on the impact side window, which has been the most 
common ejection portal in real-world rollovers.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \90\ The restrained dummy that produced an injury value of 40 
percent of the IARV was positioned in a seat that detached from the 
vehicle during the impact due to displacement of the side wall and 
rolled across the occupant compartment. This seat was installed by 
the agency to gauge lap/shoulder belt effectiveness and was not an 
original equipment seat. Injury values for restrained dummies where 
the seat remained attached to the vehicle did not exceed 12 percent 
of the IARV.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In response to PRC, these rollover test data and the data from the 
full-scale barrier crash test support our finding that shielding the 
motorcoach passenger between seat backs is not enough to prevent 
ejection from the area between the seats or from the vehicle. Lap/
shoulder seat belts are needed on these vehicles. In response to MCI, 
we will not postpone this final rule until further research is done. 
The technical basis supporting this rule is robust and known now.
    The testing has also demonstrated that installing lap/shoulder seat 
belts in motorcoaches is practicable. Today, lap/shoulder belts 
integral to the vehicle seat are offered on many new motorcoaches. The 
lap/shoulder seat belt/seating systems are readily available from seat 
suppliers and can be installed by the vehicle manufacturer. Some seat 
suppliers offer to help provide the engineering analyses bus 
manufacturers can use to certify compliance with Federal motor vehicle 
safety standards.\91\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \91\ http://www.cewhite.com/testing-lab [Last accessed February 
28, 2012.]
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    We will not agree to allow lap/shoulder seat belts to be installed 
at the manufacturer's or purchaser's discretion. The benefits of lap/
shoulder belts are realized in all crash modes and will have a 
significant impact on safety in the deadliest of crashes, rollovers and 
frontal impacts. When the agency has made a determination to issue an 
FMVSS to meet a safety need, the benefit of the FMVSS are applied to 
all travelers equally and are not made optional. Moreover, in this case 
it would be an unjust policy that provides no choice to the persons who 
would be

[[Page 70443]]

protected by the lap/shoulder seat belts--the passengers--as to whether 
the lap/shoulder belts will be provided in the buses in which they 
ride. For over-the-road buses, the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act 
requires these buses to have lap/shoulder belts.
    In 2007, the majority of the motorcoach trips (65 percent) were 
made by children and senior citizens.\92\ This final rule protects 
these vulnerable populations, as it protects all persons.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \92\ In 2007, the majority of the motorcoach trips (65 percent) 
were made by children and senior citizens. ``Motorcoach Census 2008, 
A Benchmarking Study of the Size and Activity of the Motorcoach 
Industry in the United States and Canada in 2007.'' Paul Bourquin, 
Economist and Industry Analyst, December 18, 2008.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Although fatal crashes of the covered vehicles occur infrequently, 
the crashes can affect the public's confidence in the safety of 
motorcoach transportation. Then-NTSB Acting Chairman and board member 
Mark V. Rosenker noted: ``[M]otorcoach travel is also one of the safest 
modes of transportation, but when accidents and fatalities do occur, 
the public's perception of the safety of motorcoach travel can be badly 
damaged, and once they perceive something as being unsafe it is very 
hard to change their minds.'' \93\ Mr. Rosenker observed: ``[W]hen 
tragedies occur they attract a huge amount of media attention, and as a 
result, the potential exists for the public to lose confidence in our 
transportation systems.'' In its comments on the NPRM, the United 
Motorcoach Association stated: ``Maintaining the confidence of 
consumers is of critical importance to the motorcoach industry.''
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \93\ Remarks of Mark V. Rosenker, Acting Chairman NTSB, before 
the Greater New Jersey Motorcoach Association, June 3, 2009, http://www.ntsb.gov/news/speeches/rosenker/mvr090603.html [last accessed 
February 3, 2012]
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Today's final rule will help sustain public confidence in the 
safety of the covered vehicles. Today's final rule is a first step 
toward a time when news of a serious crash of a subject bus is not 
associated with a catastrophic number of fatal and serious injuries. As 
consumers become familiar with lap/shoulder seat belts on the covered 
buses and more aware of the protection they provide, we expect not only 
use rates to increase, but public confidence in the safety of the 
affected buses to be bolstered as well.
    A number of private transportation providers asked who will enforce 
a seat belt use requirement and what type of violations will be cited 
to the carrier if passengers are found not wearing their seat belts. 
Arrow Coach Lines suggested that the states should consider adopting 
mandatory seat belt use laws on buses equipped with seat belts, but 
also suggested that enforcement will be a problem since police officers 
cannot see inside a bus while it is traveling on a highway. American 
Bus Association recommended that this rulemaking be followed and 
supported by a strong DOT effort to encourage motorcoach seat belt use, 
including incentives or sanctions to states to enforce seat belt use 
rules and the DOT should support such efforts in reauthorization.
    Regarding requirements that drivers should instruct passengers on 
seat belt use, it is correct that such requirements are outside of 
NHTSA's regulatory authority.\94\ United Motorcoach Association 
suggested that FMCSA should revise their guidance for pre-trip 
announcements and/or instructions to include reminders and directions 
for passengers regarding the use of seat belts. DOT and FMCSA are aware 
of and are considering these comments concerning the drivers' role in 
instructing passengers to use their seat belts. DOT, FMCSA and NHTSA 
are continuing work on the Departmental plan on motorcoach safety and 
are considering the next steps that could be taken to increase 
passenger use of the seat belts.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \94\ Similarly, a few commenters asked about the use of seat 
belts at wheelchair positions. This final rule does not require the 
use of seat belts by any passenger.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    We recognize that seat belt use rates could be low at first, 
possibly because the belts may seem strange and unfamiliar in the bus. 
However, we also believe passengers' attitudes about using seat belts 
can change, just as public opinion changed on using seat belts in 
passenger vehicles and on restraining children in child safety seats. 
In 1994 passenger vehicle seat belt use rate was 58 percent. The 2010 
data show the highest ever passenger vehicle seat belt use rate at 84 
percent.\95\ Mandatory seat belt use laws and child safety seat laws no 
doubt had a role in changing attitudes, but we believe that attitudes 
also changed when people became more aware of the safety benefits 
provided by the safety equipment. We believe that, as more and more 
covered buses are manufactured with lap/shoulder seat belts, the 
public's familiarity with and awareness of the safety benefits of the 
lap/shoulder belts on these buses will grow, and with that, seat belt 
use rates will too.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \95\ DOT HS 811 378. Traffic Safety Facts Research Note: Seat 
Belt Use in 2010--Overall Results, September 2010. www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811378.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Even today, we believe that lap/shoulder seat belts in covered 
buses are cost effective with just a usage rate of only 4 to 5 percent. 
It is only if the belts are available that passengers will have the 
opportunity, the choice, to take the step to use them.
    Some transportation providers expressed concerns about having to 
pay more for buses with seat belts, and the depressing of business 
because of cost being passed on to passengers. A few said that the 
resale value of its used buses will be substantially reduced and that, 
since sale of the used buses helps fund the purchase of new buses, some 
will not be able to purchase new motorcoaches within a normal 12-year 
cycle.
    We have weighed these matters in our decision-making. The 
incremental cost of this final rule will be relatively small. The 
agency estimates that the highest annualized cost due to this rule, 
including fuel cost, is $7.0 million. According to the 2008 Motorcoach 
Census,\96\ in 2007 there were 751 million trips taken on motorcoaches 
in the U.S. and Canada. If the increase in price of a motorcoach were 
distributed among these trips, it would account to a one cent increase 
in the price of a ticket.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \96\ Id.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    As far as the claimed decrease in the resale price of motorcoaches, 
secondary and tertiary effects of safety regulations are highly 
speculative and are not typically attributed to the cost of a rule. 
Even if we were to assess these effects, the commenters did not provide 
information enabling us to assess or substantiate these claims.
    We note that the commenters depict a scenario in which any change 
to the FMVSSs that requires a new or improved safety feature will have 
the effect of reducing the resale value of the used vehicles that do 
not have the safety feature. We note further that this scenario would 
apply to all vehicles, not just motorcoaches. A person selling a used 
car that does not have, for example, side impact air bags, competes 
against a person selling a used car that does. It would be unreasonable 
for NHTSA not to adopt an FMVSS that requires a new safety device or 
upgrades to an existing safety feature because the effect of the 
amendment would lower the demand for some used vehicles. We note also 
that the demand for vehicles that have the safety feature (e.g., 
passenger lap/shoulder seat belts on buses) has the positive effect of 
possibly expediting the transition to lap/shoulder seat belt-equipped 
buses in the fleet.
    Arrow Coach Lines commented that the costs associated with 
maintenance and upkeep of passenger seat belts in

[[Page 70444]]

the covered buses were not discussed in the NPRM, and stated that seat 
belts will be a ``maintenance nightmare.'' Trans-Bridge Lines stated 
that it has had seat belts cut, tied into knots, and intentionally 
broken in their seat belt-equipped buses, which has added additional 
expenses for their company to inspect, maintain, and repair the seat 
belts.
    In response, we first want to be clear that there is no requirement 
in the final rule that applies to the operators, such as a maintenance 
requirement. Second, we do not believe that the costs of maintaining 
the belts, if any, will be impactful. The commenters did not provide 
any data on this cost. The agency does not have reason to believe that 
this work will need to be done more than incidentally or that it will 
amount to a real cost, attributable to the cost of the rule. Belt 
maintenance work is not generally recognized as a necessity or as 
subject to a schedule (unlike safety systems such as tires, where it is 
generally recognized that the average tire lasts 45,000 miles). 
Further, we expect that the cost of maintaining the belts, if any, to 
be very small in comparison to the cost of upgrading the buses with 
seat belts. In response to a commenter, the assertion that non-seat 
belt related safety items may suffer in some bus garages due to the 
rule because the time required to maintain belts may come at the 
expense of checking other safety items is speculative and we cannot 
give credence to it without some kind of substantiation of this serious 
claim.
    Three private transportation providers expressed concern over the 
impact on liability and insurance costs for their non-seat belt 
equipped motorcoaches if passenger seat belts are installed in new 
motorcoaches. Vandalia Bus Lines asked how it will market the current 
fleets without seat belts, and how will insurance companies handle the 
operators who do not install seat belts because of retrofit costs.
    On the issue of liability and private insurance costs to operators 
of existing non-seat belt equipped motorcoaches, the commenters did not 
provide any estimate of the potential increase in operating costs. The 
assertions about these effects are highly speculative, and have not 
been substantiated or quantified by the commenters. Further, the 
assertions are at most related to the cost of doing business and not to 
the cost of the rule. We also believe that, to the extent commenters 
are arguing against adoption of the NPRM, it would be unreasonable for 
NHTSA not to adopt an FMVSS that establishes new safety requirements or 
upgrades an existing safety feature because of assertions about the 
effect of the amendment on liability and insurance costs associated 
with operating used vehicles that do not meet the new or upgraded 
standard.

Other DOT Initiatives

    Some motorcoach transportation providers suggested that NHTSA 
direct regulations towards areas other than seat belts, such as 
improving vehicle fire resistance, reducing driver inattention and 
detecting fatigue, and adding passive safety elements such as increased 
roof strength, improved emergency exits, and seat padding.
    This regulation mandating the installation of lap/shoulder belts on 
over-the-road buses is required by the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act. 
At the same time, many of the alternatives to a lap/shoulder seat belt 
requirement suggested by various motorcoach operators, such as 
improving fire resistance, increasing structural integrity, and 
reducing driver fatigue and inattention, are being explored by DOT as 
outlined in the Motorcoach Safety Action Plan, and in furtherance of 
provisions in the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act regarding research and 
rulemaking. However, these actions will be complementary to, not a 
replacement for, this action on seat belts. Motorcoach crashes are not 
exclusive to a particular type of enterprise or driver. DOT is taking 
all reasonable efforts to improve the crashworthiness and 
crashavoidance characteristics of the vehicles; we have determined that 
providing passengers lap/shoulder seat belts will amount to an 
unprecedented enhancement of motorcoach safety.
    With regard to other DOT initiatives, FMCSA notes that, although 
the amendments to FMVSS Nos. 208 and 210 are not applicable to new 
buses built for sale and use in Canada, FMCSA is developing a 
rulemaking to cross-reference the new FMVSS requirements, the effect of 
which would be to require motor carriers operating in the U.S. to have 
seat belts on the buses. FMCSA explains that it has traditionally held 
all motor carriers operating in the U.S. to the same safety 
requirements via 49 CFR Part 393, ``Parts and Accessories Necessary for 
Safe Operation,'' and that the FMCSA rulemaking would apply to Canada-
domiciled bus operators traveling into the U.S. Thus, FMCSA states, in 
the event FMCSA adopts a rule to require carriers to maintain the seat 
belts, those requirements may be applied to Canada- and Mexico-
domiciled carriers operating buses manufactured on or after the 
compliance date included in the NHTSA rule.
    In summary, for the above reasons, NHTSA has deemed unreasonable 
the present occupant fatality risk in buses with a GVWR greater than 
11,793 kg (26,000 lb), given the risk of fatality and serious injury in 
rollover and frontal crashes, and the proven protection afforded by 
lap/shoulder seat belts, an available and relatively inexpensive 
countermeasure. NHTSA has issued today's final rule to reduce that 
risk, and to fulfill the statutory mandate of section 32703(a) of the 
Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act of 2012.

X. Type of Belt System on Forward-Facing Seats

    The NPRM proposed to require lap/shoulder belts for forward-facing 
passenger seating positions, and not lap belts.

Comments

    1. Van Hool and Setra requested that lap or lap/shoulder belts that 
meet the European regulations be allowed as an alternative to the 
proposed requirements.
    2. Blue Bird said that it manufactures non-school buses with a GVWR 
greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb). The buses meet the Federal school 
bus safety standard for roof crush (FMVSS No. 220, ``School bus 
rollover protection'') and have seats that meet the Federal school bus 
standard for passenger crash protection (FMVSS No. 222, ``School bus 
passenger seating and crash protection''). Blue Bird requested that we 
allow buses that meet FMVSS No. 220 and that have passenger seats 
meeting FMVSS No. 222 to have lap-only belts instead of lap/shoulder 
belts.
    3. Prevost, a coach manufacturer,\97\ requested that lap-only belts 
be allowed at any seat where the occupant is not at risk of striking 
its head.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \97\ Prevost is a division of Volvo Group Canada Inc.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Agency Response

    The Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act directs NHTSA to ``prescribe 
regulations requiring safety belts to be installed in motorcoaches at 
each designed seating position.'' ``Safety belts'' mean lap/shoulder 
belts (see section 32702(12) of the Act). Consistent with the 
Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act, this final rule requires lap/shoulder 
belts at each designated seating position in over-the-road buses, 
regardless of the direction the seat faces.
    For buses other than over-the-road buses, this final rule requires 
lap/shoulder belts at each passenger

[[Page 70445]]

designated seating position, except side-facing seats may be equipped 
with a lap belt instead of a lap/shoulder belt. We respond to the 
comments as follows.
    1. We decline to allow the option of lap-only belts at forward-
facing passenger seating positions on the buses, even lap belts that 
meet European regulations (ECE R.14 and ECE R.80 are discussed in 
section XVI of this preamble) and even if the seats meet some of the 
requirements of FMVSS No. 222.
    Our decision is based on the results of NHTSA's test program 
conducted as part of the agency's 2007 ``NHTSA's Approach to Motorcoach 
Safety'' plan. These tests found that lap/shoulder belts in forward-
facing seats prevented elevated head and neck injury values and 
provided enhanced occupant protection compared to lap belts.
    In the VRTC full-scale over-the-road bus crash, the lap/shoulder-
belted dummies exhibited the lowest injury measures and improved 
kinematics, with low head and neck injury measures and little movement 
outside the area between seats, compared to the lap-belted dummies and 
unbelted dummies.
    In the VRTC sled tests of lap/shoulder-belted dummies--
     Average HIC and Nij values were low for all dummy sizes 
and below those seen in unbelted and lap-belted sled tests. This was 
consistent with the lap/shoulder belt results from the full scale crash 
test.
     Lap/shoulder belts retained the dummies in their seating 
positions and were able to mitigate head contact with the seat in 
front.
     When lap/shoulder-belted dummies were subject to loading 
(of their seats) by an aft unbelted dummy, there was additional forward 
excursion of the lap/shoulder-belted dummies, but the resulting average 
head injury measures were still relatively low in most cases, even in 
cases when the head contacted the seat in front.
     Lap/shoulder-belted dummies were better restrained in the 
oblique sled tests, conducted at a 15-degree angle, than lap-belted 
dummies. They had lower injury measures and were retained in their 
seats.
    In contrast to the lap/shoulder-belted dummies, the results for lap 
only dummies showed--
     HIC and Nij measures exceeded the IARVs for virtually all 
the dummies tested (there was a 50th percentile male dummy which 
measured a HIC of 696 (99 percent of the IARV limit)).
     The poor performance of the lap belt restraint in the sled 
tests was consistent with the lap belt results from the full scale 
motorcoach crash test.
    2. Blue Bird requested that the final rule allow the option of lap-
only belts at forward-facing passenger seating positions on buses that 
meet FMVSS No. 220 and FMVSS No. 222. Our reasons to decline to allow 
the option of lap-only belts at forward-facing passenger seating 
positions are explained above. Further, if the passenger seats on the 
bus did not meet FMVSS No. 222's seat spacing requirements, then lap 
belts alone may not provide a sufficient level of occupant protection 
on the buses. This is because the compartmentalization protection 
offered by FMVSS No. 222 is not simply predicated on the physical 
characteristics of the seat, but also the limited seat spacing. This 
limited spacing serves to control the occupant velocity such that 
impacting the forward seat back is less injurious.
    3. We decline Prevost's suggestion to allow lap-only belts at any 
seat where the occupant is not at risk of striking its head. 
Considering that the highest accelerations in motorcoach crashes are 
typically produced during frontal or rear impacts, and these 
accelerations are predominantly in the longitudinal direction, lap/
shoulder belts will provide the best protection for non-side facing 
occupants in all forward-facing seats, even for seats that are in a 
``clear'' area (no chance of head impact). NHTSA crash and sled testing 
of motorcoaches and motorcoach seats clearly showed the superior 
protection offered by lap/shoulder belt as compared to lap belts for 
forward-facing occupants. Lap/shoulder belts are superior to lap belts 
in a frontal crash because they provide more surface area for an 
occupant's body to react with during a crash when compared to lap-only 
belts, and the forces are spread over the pelvis and torso (with lap/
shoulder belts) rather than the pelvis alone (as with lap-only belts).

XI. Integrated Anchorages

    We proposed that the lap/shoulder seat belt anchorages, both torso 
and lap, be required to be integrated into the seat structure for 
passenger seats, except for the belt anchorages in the last row of the 
coach (if there is no wheelchair position or side emergency door behind 
these seats) and in the driver seating position. We proposed integral 
lap/shoulder belts on the buses to ensure that seat belts for inboard 
seat positions, in particular, are not mounted such that the belt 
webbing could impede safe passage through the bus interior during 
emergency egress. This provision is consistent with a 2010 amendment 
adopted regarding passenger crash protection on small school buses and 
optionally provided seat belts on large school buses (FMVSS No. 222).
    The last row was proposed to be excluded from the requirement 
because the location and style of the last row seats in motorcoaches 
make it possible to place belt anchorages behind or to the side of the 
seat, where the belt webbing would not impede safe travel in and out of 
the seat.\98\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \98\ However, we proposed that if the seat plan has a wheelchair 
position located behind the rearmost passenger seat, or a side 
emergency door rearward of it, the rearmost passenger seat must have 
its seat belt assembly anchorages attached to the seat structure to 
reduce the risk of tripping, entanglement, or injury.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    We proposed excluding the driver's seating position from the 
requirement because the driver's compartment is usually separated from 
the passenger compartment by a bulkhead or partition and passengers are 
less likely to be entangled in the driver's belt system during egress.

Comments

    All persons commenting on this issue were generally supportive of 
the requirement.
    C.E. White stated that the driver lap/shoulder belt should be 
integrated into the seat frame and it should include an adjustable 
shoulder height mechanism.
    American Seating recommended that seat integrated anchorages not be 
made a requirement for side-facing seats. American Seating argued that 
side-facing seats should be excluded for the same reason as the last 
row of seats since non-integrated seat belts at these positions would 
not impede occupant egress.

Response

    We do not agree that the driver position seat belts should be 
integral to the seat. As stated in the NPRM, the reason for requiring 
passenger seats to have integrated lap/shoulder seat belts is to 
``ensure that seat belts for inboard seat positions, in particular, are 
not mounted such that the belt webbing could impede safe passage 
through the bus interior during emergency egress.'' We do not find 
there to be a similar need for the driver position. The driver seating 
position was originally excluded in the NPRM from such a requirement 
because the driver compartment is usually separated from the passenger 
compartment by a bulkhead or partition. The driver's shoulder belt 
anchorage can be attached to the seat structure, side wall, or bulkhead 
without increasing risk of entanglement of the driver or passengers 
during egress. Though there may be a comfort advantage for integrating 
seat belt

[[Page 70446]]

anchorages into the driver seat, there is no clear safety benefit in 
requiring them to be integrated.
    In reference to C.E. White's request that the shoulder height be 
adjustable, we note that all the fit and adjustment requirements of 
S7.1 of FMVSS No. 208 are being required for the driver position of 
affected buses. Regarding AORC's request that the lap/shoulder belt 
move with any suspension seat, we note that we believe this issue is 
already sufficiently addressed for all buses by the regulatory text of 
FMVSS No. 208. This section has a requirement that the automatic 
locking retractor used at a driver seating position of a suspension 
system must be attached to the seat structure that moves as the 
suspension system functions. In addition, the lap belt portion of a 
seat belt equipped with an automatic locking retractor must allow at 
least 19 mm (\3/4\ inch), but less than 76 mm (3 inches) of webbing 
movement before retracting webbing to the next locking position. We see 
no need for any changes to this section for the affected vehicles.
    The agency agrees with American Seating's view that seat-integrated 
anchorages need not be made a requirement for side-facing seats. We 
note that side-facing seats were excluded from the requirement for 
integrated anchorages based on the regulatory text presented in the 
NPRM. We agree to adopt this text in the final rule, thereby excluding 
any passenger seat that does not have another seat, a wheelchair 
position, or a side emergency exit door behind it, for the reasons 
provided in the NPRM.
    In addition, NHTSA is excluding any right front outboard seating 
position that is not rearward of the driver's seat from the requirement 
that the lap/shoulder seat belt system must be integrated into the seat 
structure. (The lap/shoulder belts are still required for that 
position, but they do not need to be integrated into the seat 
structure.) The agency has decided on this provision because under 
current FMVSS No. 208, the seat belt assemblies of the right front 
passenger designated seating position and the driver's designated 
seating position are subject to the same seat belt requirements. 
Currently, there are final-stage manufacturers, some of which are small 
businesses, which manufacture body-on-frame buses by combining an 
incomplete vehicle that has a driver seat and a right front passenger 
seat (a chassis cab) with a bus body. We wish to address the situation 
where a final-stage manufacturer obtains an incomplete vehicle in which 
the driver seat and the right front passenger seat have non-integral 
lap/shoulder belts. We do not believe there is a safety need to require 
the final-stage manufacturer to replace the right front passenger seat 
(which might have non-integral lap/shoulder belts) with a seat that has 
integral lap/shoulder seat belts. This is because the right front 
passenger seat is typically located away from an area that passengers 
will be traversing to egress the vehicle, and because this provision 
involves only this one passenger seat on the bus.
    Such a provision provides flexibility to final-stage manufacturers 
using chassis cabs. The manufacturer will be able to use the seating 
systems that were provided by the chassis cab manufacturer without 
having to replace the right front passenger seat with a seat that has a 
different belt system.\99\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \99\ In furtherance of this flexibility, this final rule will 
also subject the seat belt assembly of the right front passenger 
designated seating position to the requirements applying to the seat 
belt assembly of the driver's seating position. We conclude there is 
no safety downside to this approach since it only involves a single 
passenger seat.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

XII. Seat Belt Adjustment, Fit, Lockability, and Other Requirements

    NHTSA proposed that the lap/shoulder belts installed for passengers 
and drivers include provisions for seat belt adjustment and fit as 
specified in S7.1 of FMVSS No. 208. Specifying belt adjustment and fit 
ensure that the lap and shoulder belt portions of the seat belt 
assembly are able to accommodate passengers whose dimensions range from 
those of a small child to a large adult male. Through references in 
FMVSS No. 208, NHTSA proposed that the upper torso restraint must 
adjust either by means of an emergency-locking retractor that conforms 
to Sec.  571.209, or by a manual adjusting device that conforms to 
Sec.  571.209.
    In addition, we proposed that the seat belt at each designated 
seating position, besides the driver position, meet the FMVSS No. 208 
lockability requirements. The lap belt portion must be lockable so that 
the seat belt assembly can be used to tightly secure a child restraint 
system without the use of any device that must be attached by the 
consumer to the seat belt webbing, retractor, or any other part of the 
vehicle. The lap belt must be lockable without any inverting, twisting 
or other deformation of the belt webbing.
    The NPRM also proposed that each seat belt assembly must have a 
latch mechanism with all the latch mechanism components accessible to a 
seated occupant, and that the latch mechanism be capable of releasing 
both the upper torso restraint and the lap belt simultaneously at a 
single point and by a pushbutton action.

Comments

    Seven commenters responded to this aspect of the NPRM, generally 
supporting requirements for adjustment and fit. There were some 
questions raised about the lockability requirements, but as explained 
below, it seemed to some extent that these were based on a 
misunderstanding of lockable seat belts.

Agency Response

    We note that IMMI stated that it is aware of concerns in the 
industry about lockability requirements being satisfied by an automatic 
locking retractor (ALR), which the commenter associated with possible 
increased harm to passengers. The commenter did not elaborate what it 
meant by ``harm to passengers,'' and we know of no reason why 
lockability would lead to harm on motorcoaches. Seat belts in passenger 
cars and other light duty vehicles have had to meet lockability 
requirements since the 1990s.
    The agency disagrees with Setra's concern that passenger seats that 
use a locking retractor for the lap portion ``will restrict passenger 
freedom to move during long trips and would be quite disagreeable.'' 
This final rule requires that all passenger seats in affected vehicles 
have seat belt assemblies that are equipped with an emergency locking 
retractor (ELR).\100\ When an ELR and lockability are required, vehicle 
manufacturers commonly use a switchable seat belt retractor (ELR/ALR) 
that can easily be converted from the ELR mode to the ALR mode to meet 
both requirements.\101\ For a lap/shoulder (Type 2) belt system, the 
lap portion of the seat belt can also be made lockable by using a 
continuous-loop seat belt with the switchable retractor providing 
tension to the lap belt portion through the shoulder belt portion.\102\

[[Page 70447]]

Such seat belt systems, which are commonly used in current light 
passenger vehicles, can meet the passenger seat ELR and lockability 
requirements of this rule without significantly restricting the 
occupant's freedom of motion.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \100\ An ELR is a seat belt retractor that locks only in 
response to the rapid deceleration of a vehicle or rapid spooling 
out of the seat belt webbing from the retractor, and increases the 
comfort of the seat belt assembly compared to an automatic locking 
retractor (ALR). An ALR is a seat belt retractor that locks when the 
continuous motion of spooling the belt out is stopped. From that 
point, the seat belt cannot be pulled out any further without first 
letting the seat belt fully retract into the retractor housing.
    \101\ A switchable retractor (ELR/ALR) can be converted from an 
ELR to an ALR without the use of any tools by slowly pulling all of 
the webbing out of the retractor, which engages the ALR mode, and 
letting the retractor wind the webbing back up. In ALR mode, the 
seat belt is lockable for use with child restraints.
    \102\ A continuous-loop lap/shoulder belt is a three-point belt 
that uses one continuous piece of webbing that slides through a 
latch plate. It is connected at one end to the vehicle at the anchor 
point and the other to a retractor system.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    IMMI suggested that we permit bus manufacturers to install child 
restraint anchorage systems (FMVSS No. 225, ``LATCH'' systems) at some 
passenger seats in lieu of meeting lockability requirements. 
SafetyBeltSafe and Safe Ride News suggested that LATCH be required at 
some passenger seating locations in the buses. We are not adopting 
these suggestions. Child restraint systems are required \103\ to be 
capable of attachment to the vehicle seat using the seat belt system 
and using the child restraint anchorage systems. Motorists are familiar 
with the belt system to attach child restraints to the vehicle seats. 
Since the public has gained a strong familiarity using seat belts with 
child restraints, we are adopting the lockability requirement for all 
passenger seating positions on the covered buses.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \103\ FMVSS No. 213, ``Child restraint systems.''
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    We also disagree with SafetyBeltSafe and Safe Ride News that the 
final rule should require LATCH at some passenger seating locations in 
the buses covered by this rule. This issue was not proposed in the 
NPRM. Note also that bus manufacturers are not prevented from offering 
LATCH to purchasers of their vehicles if they choose to do so.
    Setra objected to the idea that the vehicle owner's manual must 
include information about using a device such as a lockability feature, 
believing it not to be practical toward providing bus passengers the 
prescribed information. The agency disagrees with Setra's belief that 
instructions in the owner's manual on how the seat belt assembly can be 
made to accommodate a child restraint serve little or no purpose. 
Though the owner's manual (or other form of written instruction) might 
not be directly available to the bus passengers, the instructions will 
be available to the vehicle operator. Instructions regarding the 
operation of safety-related vehicle systems at both the driver and the 
passenger seating positions, including those required by FMVSS No. 208, 
should be available to the bus operator to assist passengers as needed. 
Such information could pertain to using the seat belt lockability 
function for the installation of child restraints, and importantly, 
disengaging the feature when the belt has to be returned to its ELR 
state for a subsequent adult passenger.
    We disagree with IMMI that the adjustable upper shoulder belt 
anchor point requirement should be identical to the range for larger 
occupants in FMVSS No. 210 for school bus seats, i.e., 280 mm to 520 
mm. We do not agree that the extended range of seat belt adjustment 
required for school buses is needed for the vehicles affected by this 
final rule. In travel on the affected vehicles, a booster seat can be 
more readily used, if needed, to obtain proper shoulder belt fit than 
on school buses, since an adult would likely be traveling with the 
child on the commercial bus to provide and supervise use of the booster 
seat.\104\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \104\ IMMI, SafetyBeltSafe and Safe Ride News's comments about 
potential problems with requiring manually locking belts equipped 
with switchable retractors on large school buses is outside the 
scope of this rulemaking.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    After reading Setra's comment, we reviewed proposed S7.1.6 (FMVSS 
No. 208) and found it was oversimplified in the NPRM. We have corrected 
the language in the final rule to more closely reflect S7.1.1 of 
current FMVSS No. 208, from which it was derived. Specifically, the fit 
requirements have been extended down to the 50th percentile 6-year-old 
child and the seat back position has been corrected to indicate the 
nominal design position.
    While reviewing Setra's comment on S4.4.3.1(c), we realized that 
current S7.1.3 of FMVSS No. 208 was unintentionally left out of the 
proposed amendatory text for the passenger seating positions. S7.1.3 
requires that the intersection of the upper torso belt and lap belt in 
any lap/shoulder belt assembly, when adjusted in accordance with the 
manufacturer's instructions, must be at least 6 inches from the 
vertical centerline of a 50th percentile male occupant when measured 
along the centerline of the lap belt. This is an important feature of 
proper belt fit that is applicable to most current seating 
positions.\105\ This section has been added to the requirements adopted 
today for the seating positions on the affected vehicles.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \105\ Passenger seats of large school buses voluntarily equipped 
with seat belts do not need to meet this requirement because of the 
unique seat geometry associated with these seats.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

XIII. Passenger Seats That Are Not Forward-Facing

    For side-facing seating positions, the NPRM provided manufacturers 
with the option of installing either a lap or a lap/shoulder belt. This 
option was consistent with FMVSS No. 208 (S4.4.5.6), which allows lap 
belts for side-facing seats on buses with a GVWR of 4,536 kg (10,000 
lb) or less. The agency proposed to permit lap belts in side-facing 
seats because we were unaware of any demonstrable increase in 
associated risk. We also noted that a study commissioned by the 
European Commission regarding side-facing seats on minibuses and 
motorcoaches found that due to different seat belt designs, crash modes 
and a lack of real world data, it cannot be determined whether a lap 
belt or a lap/shoulder belt would be the most effective.\106\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \106\ http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/automotive/projects/safety_consid_long_stg.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Comments

    Turtle Top asked why require either type of seat belt for side-
facing seats. IMMI and American Seating recommended that forward-facing 
seating be mandated. They believed that mixing forward-facing seating 
with rear-facing or side-facing seating can result in unbelted 
passengers colliding with belted passengers during a crash. American 
Seating claimed that shoulder belts may cause serious neck injuries 
when applied to side-facing passenger seating positions. These and 
other comments are addressed below.

 Agency Response

    The Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act directs NHTSA to ``prescribe 
regulations requiring safety belts to be installed in motorcoaches at 
each designed seating position.'' The term ``safety belts'' means lap/
shoulder belts (see section 32702(12) of the Act) and ``motorcoach'' 
means ``over-the-road bus'' (with certain vehicles excepted). Thus, the 
Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act requires over-the-road buses to have 
lap/shoulder belts at each designated seating position, which includes 
side-facing seats.
    1. In response to Turtle Top, mandating seat belts at side-facing 
seats is consistent with the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act. In 
addition, such a mandate is consistent with NHTSA's determination that 
seat belts at side-facing locations will provide a clear benefit in 
rollovers, especially in preventing ejection. Seat belts are required 
for side-seating by FMVSS No. 208 in buses with a GVWR of 4,536 kg 
(10,000 lb) or less for that reason. The Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act 
requires seat belts on side-facing seats only in over-the-road buses. 
Because seat belt systems will be effective in heavy buses generally, 
we are not going to forgo requiring seat belts at side-facing seats in 
non-over-the-road buses.

[[Page 70448]]

    As to the specific type of seat belt, the final rule will require 
lap or lap/shoulder belts (at the manufacturer's option) at side-facing 
seats on all affected buses, except over-the-road buses. For over-the-
road buses the final rule will require lap/shoulder belts in side-
facing seats, consistent with the MAP-21 Congressional mandate, as 
opposed to allowing the option for lap or lap/shoulder belts.
    There is not sufficient information that substantiates concerns 
about lap/shoulder belts on side-facing seats to a degree that would 
support prohibiting such belts. Yet, NHTSA acknowledges there have been 
concerns about the shoulder belt on side-facing seats, which we have 
weighed in past decisions not to require lap/shoulder belts on side-
facing seats for any vehicle type of any weight.
    In the 2004 Anton's Law final rule we specifically declined to 
require lap/shoulder belts on side-facing seats of light vehicles 
because we believed ``the addition of a shoulder belt at this seat 
position is of limited value, given the paucity of data related to side 
facing seats.'' \107\ However, we declined to prohibit lap/shoulder 
belts ``because we [were] unaware of any demonstrable increase in 
associated risk.'' The agency's view on this matter has not changed. 
There is not enough information showing the effect, positive or 
negative, of the shoulder belt on side-facing seats.
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    \107\ 59 FR 70907.
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    However, although we have no direct evidence that shoulder belts 
may cause serious neck injuries when applied to side-facing seats, we 
are aware of simulation data that are indicative of potential carotid 
artery injury when the neck is loaded by the shoulder belt.\108\ In 
addition, as we noted in 2004, the Australian Design Rule ADR 5/04, 
``Anchorages for Seatbelts'' has specifically prohibited shoulder belts 
for side-facing seats since 1975.
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    \108\ Editors: Fildes, B., Diggs, K., ``Occupant Protection in 
Far Side Crashes,'' Monash University Accident Research Center, 
Report No. 294, April 2010, pg. 57.
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    We believe there are design considerations that could possibly 
mitigate a risk of neck injury. In the 2004 Anton's Law final rule we 
noted that a study funded by the European Commission (EC) regarding 
side-facing seats on minibuses and motorcoaches found that the addition 
of a panel directly in front of a side-facing seat would help restrain 
a belted occupant in a frontal crash in a manner that would prevent 
either spool-out from the belt or belt loading against the neck.\109\ 
The literature review in this same report also stated that neck loading 
by shoulder belts in frontal crashes can be avoided by locating the 
shoulder belt anchorage rearward of the occupant neck. We recognize 
that this could limit the restraint of an occupant's upper torso, given 
that the shoulder belt may slip off the shoulder.\110\
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    \109\ This report may be viewed at http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/sectors/automotive/files/projects/safety_consid_long_stg_en.pdf.
    \110\ Note that our final rule does not prohibit manufacturers 
from installing a forward panel or a rearward anchorage location.
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    Our understanding is that there would be few, if any, side-facing 
seats on over-the-road buses, so the real-world implications of this 
issue might be narrow. Given that there are unknowns about shoulder 
belt loading of an occupant's neck on a side-facing seat, and in view 
of the small number of side-facing seats on the buses in question, 
manufacturers of over-the-road buses seeking to install lap belts on 
side-facing seats may petition NHTSA for a temporary exemption from the 
requirement to install lap/shoulder belt at side-facing seats, under 49 
CFR Part 555. The basis for the petition is that the applicant is 
unable to sell a bus whose overall level of safety is at least equal to 
that of a non-exempted vehicle.\111\ The agency would be receptive to 
the argument that, for side-facing seats, lap belts provide an 
equivalent level of safety to lap/shoulder belts.
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    \111\ 49 CFR part 555 limits the number of exempted vehicles 
sold in the U.S. in any 12-month period to 2,500 vehicles. The 
exemption is limited to a period of 2 years by 49 CFR 555.8(b) but 
applications for renewal of the exemption are automatically granted 
if filed within 60 days before termination of the exemption and do 
not terminate until the Administrator grants or denies the 
application for renewal. 49 CFR 555.8(e).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    2. The issue of mandating only forward-facing seats was not a part 
of the NPRM. In the NPRM, we indicated our awareness of other seating 
directions when we proposed to permit either a lap belt or lap/shoulder 
belt for side-facing seats. The commenters suggesting that affected 
vehicles be restricted to forward-facing seats did not present data 
showing a safety need for prohibiting seats other than forward-facing 
seats. While we recognize there is potential for occupant-to-occupant 
contact when seating configurations are intermixed, this final rule 
mitigates such potential contact by specifying that some type of seat 
belt must be provided at all passenger seating positions.
    3. The NPRM preamble did not mention rear-facing seats even though 
we meant to apply the proposed lap/shoulder belt requirements to those 
seats, as shown by the proposed regulatory text that included language 
for rear-facing seats. We note for clarification purposes that this 
final rule requires lap/shoulder belts at all passenger seating 
positions other than side-facing seats, not just forward-facing 
positions.
    4. BroendumSeats requested that the regulation include ``sleeper 
seats,'' which are seats that can be reconfigured into a couchette by 
the passengers to allow them to lie down while the motorcoach is 
moving. BroendumSeats suggested that this type of seat should meet the 
proposed regulations when configured as an ordinary coach seat and also 
be required to restrain the occupant when configured as a couchette and 
tested using the same forces as used for the sitting position.
    In response, we cannot consider the suggestion to apply seat belt 
requirements to ``sleeper seats'' when configured as couchettes at this 
time. Such seats need to meet the requirements of the final rule when 
configured as ordinary coach seats. The couchette configuration was not 
contemplated during development of the NPRM, nor does the agency have 
any technical data or market volume data to assess the safety need 
involved or how NHTSA should address it.

XIV. Driver's Seat

    In the NPRM, the agency explained that FMVSS No. 208 currently 
allows an option of a lap or lap/shoulder belt for the driver seating 
position in buses with a GVWR greater than 4,536 kg (10,000 lb). The 
NPRM proposed to amend FMVSS No. 208 to require lap/shoulder belts for 
the driver seating position in (the vehicles the NPRM proposed to 
define as) motorcoaches (generally buses with a GVWR greater than 
11,793 kg (26,000 lb) except transit and school buses) and in ``large'' 
(GVWR over 4,536 kg (10,000 lb)) school buses. (``Small'' school buses 
(GVWR less than or equal to 4,536 kg (10,000 lb)) are already required 
to be equipped with lap/shoulder belts for the driver's seating 
position.)
    The agency proposed not to require lap/shoulder belts for drivers 
of transit or other buses. We stated that ``[t]hese buses are driven in 
different environments than motorcoaches,'' and that ``Motorcoaches are 
often driven on highways and other high-speed roads, so the risk of 
injury is greater for drivers of these [motorcoach] vehicles'' as 
compared to other buses. The NPRM did not provide any estimate of the 
potential costs and benefits of a lap/shoulder belt requirement but 
requested comment on the issue.

[[Page 70449]]

Comments

    All 16 commenters on this issue supported the proposal.
    NTSB stated that it is pleased with the proposal to require lap/
shoulder belts for the driver position in motorcoaches and large school 
buses and that such a requirement addresses NTSB Safety Recommendation 
H-90-75.
    The National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation 
Services (NASDPTS) expressed strong support for the lap/shoulder belt 
requirement for the driver position in motorcoaches and in large school 
buses. NASDPTS said that in response to the NPRM, it conducted an 
informal survey of the manufacturers of large school buses and found 
that currently all new large school buses are being manufactured with a 
lap/shoulder belt at the driver position. It stated that most states 
already require lap/shoulder belts at the driver position of school 
buses and that the School Transportation Specifications and Procedures 
of the National Congress on School Transportation has recommended that 
the states adopt this requirement since 1990. The National School 
Transportation Association also supported the lap/shoulder belt 
requirement for the driver position of large school buses.
    SafetyBeltSafe, Safe Ride News, Advocates, and two seat 
manufacturers expressed support for the lap/shoulder belt requirement 
for the driver position of motorcoaches and large school buses, but 
recommended that it include all buses, including urban transit buses.

Agency Response

    The Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act requires over-the-road buses to 
have lap/shoulder belts at each designated seating position, which 
includes the driver position.
    In satisfaction of the Act, and in accordance with the NPRM, this 
final rule requires a lap/shoulder belt for the driver position in 
over-the-road buses, and in other buses as discussed in the NPRM.
    In response to commenters requesting that the requirement be 
expanded to include the driver position of all buses, we are not 
agreeing to this suggestion without providing more opportunity to the 
public to comment on the issue.
    After the comments were received, we reanalyzed accident data for 
the driver's position for these other buses. First, looking at the data 
for drivers of buses above the 11,793 kg (26,000 lb) threshold and 
below that threshold, we found that drivers of buses between 4,536 kg 
and 11,793 kg (10,000 lb and 26,000 lb) are at slightly less risk of 
fatality than the drivers of motorcoaches above the 11,793 kg (26,000 
lb) threshold. On an annual basis, there are 0.7 driver fatalities in 
the buses between 4,536 kg and 11,793 kg (10,000 lb and 26,000 lb) as 
compared to 4.1 in the motorcoaches above the 11,793 kg (26,000 lb). 
These data present that there is less of a safety need to require lap/
shoulder belts for the driver positions of buses below the 11,793 kg 
(26,000 lb) threshold than for buses above the 11,793 kg (26,000 lb) 
threshold.
    Second, regarding the driver's position on transit buses, 2000-2009 
FARS data show that for transit buses with a GVWR of 11,793 kg (26,000 
lb) or less, transit bus drivers had zero fatalities during this 10 
year period. For buses with a GVWR greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb), 
the analysis showed that the number of annual driver fatalities for the 
category of vehicle in FARS termed transit bus body type is 1.1, as 
compared to 4.1 for non-transit and non-school buses. Thus, the target 
population for transit bus drivers is about one-quarter of that for 
drivers of buses covered by this final rule.
    To further learn about this issue, we also conducted a cost/benefit 
analysis for requiring a lap/shoulder belt at the driver position of 
buses with a GVWR greater than 4,536 kg (10,000 lb). This analysis 
found that the cost per equivalent life saved for drivers in the 
covered buses (GVWR greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb)) ranged from 
$0.01 to $0.04 million, drivers in mid-size buses (GVWR from 4,536 to 
11,793 (10,000 to 26,000 lb)) ranged from $0.04 to $3.1 million and 
drivers in transit buses (GVWR greater than 4,536 kg or 10,000 lb) 
ranged from $0.04 to $0.8 million.
    The issue of requiring lap/shoulder belts at the driver position of 
large transit buses was not discussed in a meaningful way in the NPRM. 
Thus, the transit bus industry, including manufacturers, purchasers, 
and operators of transit buses, did not provide in-depth comment on 
this issue in response to the NPRM, nor have we been able to benefit 
from reading comments on the issue. In the absence of this, this final 
rule will not extend the lap/shoulder belt requirement beyond driver 
positions of the buses covered in the NPRM.

XV. Seat Belt Signage and Other Reminders

    We have decided against requiring passenger seat belt use signage 
or auditory reminders on covered buses at this time. At this time, the 
agency does not know enough about the use of seat belt use signage and 
reminders on covered buses and does not have information on their cost 
and effectiveness at promoting passengers to use seat belts. In its 
comment, Trans-Bridge Lines said that it found that the majority of its 
passengers do not use belts in spite of having signage asking 
passengers to fasten their seat belts and having the driver instructing 
them to do so.
    It is unclear how auditory seat belt reminders for the passengers, 
as suggested by some commenters, could be implemented without a sensor 
to determine the occupancy of the seat and switches in the belt buckles 
to determine their use. Such a requirement would be relatively 
expensive, and it does not seem like a prudent investment. Trans-Bridge 
Lines commented that its drivers must focus on the safe operation of 
the bus and cannot simultaneously enforce seat belt fastening rules.
    UMA believed that FMCSA should revise their guidance for pre-trip 
announcements and/or instructions to include reminders and directions 
for passengers regarding the use of seat belts. We have informed FMCSA 
of UMA's comment.

XVI. Strength Requirements

    NHTSA proposed that lap/shoulder belts on the covered buses be 
required to meet the anchorage strength requirements of FMVSS No. 210. 
Because the agency proposed a requirement that the passenger lap/
shoulder belts must be integrated into the seat structure, the agency's 
view was that a seat belt anchorage strength requirement not only 
specifies the strength of the seat belt attachment to the vehicle seat, 
it also performs the vital function of ensuring the attachment of the 
seat to the bus. ``A seat belt anchorage strength requirement provides 
the foundation upon which the entire occupant protection system is 
built. If the anchorage fails, the belted occupant could be propelled 
beyond the confines of the occupant seat space, and injury or ejection 
could occur.'' NPRM, 75 FR at 50973.
    In FMVSS No. 210, lap/shoulder belt anchorages and attachment 
hardware are required to withstand a 13,345 N (3,000 lb) force applied 
to the lap portion and a 13,345 N (3,000 lb) force simultaneously 
applied to the torso portion of the belt assembly, for 10 seconds.\112\ 
Anchorages, attachment

[[Page 70450]]

hardware, and attachment bolts for seats with multiple designated 
seating positions are tested simultaneously. The seat belt anchorage 
comprises any component involved in transferring seat belts loads to 
the vehicle structure. See S3, FMVSS No. 210. Since the seat belts will 
be attached to the vehicle seat on the covered buses, the seat belt 
anchorage includes the seat frame and seat pedestal.
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    \112\ An exception for Type 2 lap belts that have detachable 
torso belts is not relevant here.
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    In developing a performance standard for lap/shoulder belt 
anchorages, the agency considered several alternatives, and assessed 
the suitability of alternatives using seat belt anchorage test data 
obtained in the motorcoach crash test and sled test program. NHTSA 
tentatively determined that the test data best supported applying FMVSS 
No. 210 to the passenger seat belt anchorages on the covered buses, but 
we requested comments on alternatives to FMVSS No. 210, particularly 
ECE R.14 and ECE R.80.
    ECE Regulation No. 14, ``Vehicles with Regard to Safety-Belt 
Anchorages, ISOFIX Anchorages Systems and ISOFIX Top Tether 
Anchorages,'' applies to M2 and M3 vehicles \113\ and specifies a 
static test method to evaluate seat belt and seat anchorage strength. 
The ECE R.14 load does not include the load that unbelted occupants aft 
of the seat being evaluated (we call this the ``target seat'') may 
impose on the target seat. For M3 vehicles, ECE R.14 applies a load of 
4,500 N to the shoulder belt and 4,500 N to the lap belt (total of 
9,000 N). In addition, for M3 vehicles it also specifies an additional 
inertial seat load of 6.6g x the weight of the seat. For M2 seats, it 
specifies an addition load of 10g x the weight of the seat.\114\
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    \113\ ECE Regulations define the M2 vehicle category as vehicles 
having more than eight seating positions and mass not exceeding 5 
metric tons (11,023 lb). The M3 vehicle category consists of 
vehicles having more than eight seating positions and mass exceeding 
5 metric tons (11,023 lb).
    \114\ Seats designed to meet ECE R.14 for M3 vehicles are 
referred to in this final rule document as ``7 g'' seats and seats 
designed for M2 vehicles are referred to as ``10 g'' seats.
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    ECE Regulation No. 80, ``Seats of Large Passenger Vehicles and of 
These Vehicles with Regard to the Strength of the Seats and Their 
Anchorages,'' applies to M2 and M3 vehicles. The ECE R.80 procedures 
evaluate the seat back's strength, energy absorption capability and 
impact protection for occupants in the rear seat aft of the target seat 
and the target seat's anchorage strength. The seat back performance is 
assessed with either a dynamic or a static test option. The ECE R.80 
load does not include the seat belt loads from the restrained occupant 
in the target seat and evaluates anchorage performance in terms of the 
loading of the seat back from unrestrained occupants in the rearward 
row.
    The dynamic test option of ECE R.80 loads the seat back with an 
unrestrained \115\ 50th percentile male dummy in a 30-32 km/h (18.6-
19.9 mph) delta V, 6.5-8.5 average g pulse. Performance value limits on 
the injury measures of the dummy are HIC = 500, chest acceleration = 30 
g, femur force = 10,000 N (2,248 lb) and 8,000 N (1,798 lb) for not 
more than 20 milliseconds.\116\ The static test option assesses seat 
back performance through a static force-deflection test that applies 
5,000 N (1,124 lb) to the seat over a 200 millisecond time period.
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    \115\ We note that ECE R.80 also requires testing with a 
restrained dummy in the rear ``auxiliary'' seat. However, this 
auxiliary seat need not be the same as the forward seat that is the 
focus of the test. If the test with the belted dummy in the rear is 
conducted with the manikin restrained by a lap/shoulder belt and the 
injury criteria are not exceeded, the auxiliary seat is considered 
to have met the requirements relating to the static test loads and 
movement of the upper anchorage of ECE R.14.
    \116\ These injury criteria do not match those in FMVSS No. 208 
for the 50th percentile male test dummy, except for the upper limit 
on femur force. The chest acceleration limit in FMVSS No. 208 is 60 
gs. FMVSS No. 208 specifies a HIC15 limit of 700. The HIC limit in 
ECE R.80 does not appear to have a time limit.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The agency proposed to adopt FMVSS No. 210 after analyzing the seat 
belt anchorage test data obtained in the VRTC motorcoach crash test and 
sled test program.\117\
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    \117\ NHTSA found that the over-the-road bus in the 48 km/h (30 
mph) rigid barrier crash test experienced only a 13g peak 
deceleration (crash pulse). Data from our frontal sled test program 
enabled us to analyze the magnitude of the forces that are exerted 
on the seat anchorages in a 13g crash.
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    We studied five sled tests from the sled test program to determine 
the loads measured at the seat belt anchorages.\118\ These five were 
selected because they represented demanding yet potentially common 
scenarios for the loads we believe will be imparted to seat belt 
anchorages during a motorcoach crash. We identified the loads recorded 
in the sled tests at the seat anchorage points in the second row target 
seat, the loads on the lap/shoulder belts in the target seat in which 
test dummies were restrained, and the loads to the seat back of the 
target seat from the unrestrained dummies in the third (aft) row. We 
then compared those loads to the loads that seat belt and seat 
anchorages are required to withstand under FMVSS No. 210, ECE R.14 and 
ECE R.80. In that way, we could determine which performance test best 
accounted for the loads imparted on the seat belt anchorages.
    Of the five sled tests, the highest total load experienced by the 
seat anchorages in the forward direction was 46,570 N (10,469 lb). This 
load resulted from a test of a 10 g seat with two 50th percentile male 
test dummies restrained with lap/shoulder belts in the middle row and 
with two unrestrained 50th percentile male dummies in the rear (aft) 
row. Applying a static load of 48,569 N (10,918 lb) (or approximately 
24,285 N (5,460 lb) per seating position) to the seat belt anchorages, 
using the loading devices and technique specified in FMVSS No. 210, 
reproduces the load measured at the seat anchorages in the sled 
test.\119\
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    \118\ For a description of the five sled tests, see 75 FR 50973, 
col. 2.
    \119\ This relationship was determined by testing a seat to 
failure using the loading device specified in FMVSS No. 210 and 
measuring the load applied through the seat belt anchorages and the 
load experienced at the seat anchorages (in the x-direction). This 
method was referred to as ``Method B'' in the NPRM and in research 
report DOT HS 811 335, NHTSA's Motorcoach Safety Research Crash, 
Sled, and Static Tests, dated May 2010.
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    FMVSS No. 210 appeared to best account for the loads imparted on 
the seat belt anchorages. The total load on the seat belt anchorages of 
48,569 N (10,918 lb) (approximately 24,285 N (5,460 lb) per seating 
position) required to generate the same peak total load experienced in 
the sled test is only slightly lower than the total forces required by 
FMVSS No. 210 of 53,380 N (12,000 lb) (or 26,690 N (6,000 lb) per 
seating position). That is, the highest total peak dynamic loading 
recorded by the seat anchorage of the tests (48,569 N) was about 91 
percent of that applied in FMVSS No. 210 (26,690 N (6,000 lb) per seat, 
or 53,380 N (12,000 lb) for a two-person bench seat). These data 
indicated that the FMVSS No. 210 load would account for seat belt loads 
generated by a restrained occupant, seat inertia loads, and loading 
from unbelted occupants in the rear.
    ECE R.14 and ECE R.80 both determine seat belt and seat anchorage 
strength by separately considering the loading from the belted occupant 
in the seat and the loading due to unrestrained occupants in the rear 
row. We believed that the loads specified in these regulations are not 
sufficiently high to sustain the combined loads from the restrained 
occupant in the seat and rear occupant loading. In the test of the 7 g 
seat with restrained 50th percentile male dummies in the target seat 
and unrestrained 50th percentile male dummies in the rear, we estimated 
that the total peak load on the anchorages from the lap/shoulder belts 
alone for one motorcoach seating position was

[[Page 70451]]

11,400 N (2,563 lb) and that from rear occupant loading was 8,150 N 
(1,832 lb). The contribution of anchorage loads in this sled test from 
the seat belt loading alone was greater than the 9,000 N (2,023 lb) 
applied by ECE R.14 and the loading from rear occupant loading was 
greater than the 5,000 N (1,124 lb) applied by ECE R.80. We believed 
that a seat manufactured to meet FMVSS No. 210 would better be able to 
withstand this tri-loading on the seat in a severe yet not uncommon bus 
crash, than a seat that was not manufactured to account for the 
rearward loading.
    In the NPRM, the agency explained that it has tentatively 
determined that there were no adverse consequences associated with 
applying FMVSS No. 210 to the seat belt anchorages of the affected 
vehicles rather than ECE R.14 (75 FR at 50974). There did not appear to 
be adverse consequences to meeting FMVSS No. 210 in terms of weight, 
comfort, or cost, because data from our testing program indicated that 
the Amaya 7 g seats we acquired to evaluate in our testing program 
appeared to have been already made to meet the more stringent 
requirements of FMVSS No. 210. In April 2009, VRTC tested existing 
Amaya lap/shoulder belt seat designs to evaluate FMVSS No. 210 
performance. The agency sought to understand the extent to which 
changes will be needed to existing 7 g and 10 g seat and seat anchorage 
designs in order to meet the performance requirements in FMVSS No. 210. 
Two static tests were performed on the seats using a test fixture and 
the FMVSS No. 210 test method.\120\ Both the 7 g and 10 g seats were 
able to meet the FMVSS No. 210 performance requirements, which NHTSA 
believed showed not only the practicability of the proposed FMVSS No. 
210 requirements with current designs, but also that meeting FMVSS No. 
210 was not likely to adversely affect the weight or comfort of current 
``7 g'' seats.
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    \120\ An additional test was conducted on a 10 g seat because an 
initial FMVSS No. 210 test was conducted on a 10 g seat using the 
same seat mounting rails used during the 7 g seat test. During this 
10 g seat test, the seat failed to meet the FMVSS No. 210 loads. 
However, we determined that this test should be deemed invalid 
because the seat rails were reused. It was unknown to what extent 
the rails were damaged during the previous test, thus affecting the 
results of the subsequent test. The rails were replaced on the test 
fixture and a second test using a 10 g rated seat was performed 
successfully.
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    Although we preferred FMVSS No. 210 to ECE R.14 and ECE R.80, the 
NPRM asked for information that could help the agency make a fuller 
incremental assessment of each alternative's costs and benefits.

Comments

    There were 16 comments on the proposal to apply FMVSS No. 210 to 
all seating positions in the affected vehicles. Many commenters 
supported applying FMVSS No. 210, while several others supported the 
ECE regulations. Two commenters suggested alternative requirements. 
Many commenters recommended that NHTSA adopt requirements regulating 
seat back impact and/or energy absorption.
    Generally, the seat manufacturers commenting on this issue (C.E. 
White, Freedman, IMMI, and American Seating) supported applying FMVSS 
No. 210 as proposed. C.E. White stated that ``not only the forward 
forces applied to the lap/shoulder belts, representative of the 
restrain[ed] occupants in the test seat, [should] be taken into 
consideration but also the forces applied by the knee/femur and head/
upper torso of the unrestrained occupants in the seat behind the test 
seat [should] be taken into consideration.'' Freedman agreed with the 
agency's conclusion that FMVSS No. 210 should be extended to all 
seating positions in the affected vehicles and stated that the U.S. bus 
industry is already familiar with FMVSS No. 210 requirements and will 
therefore be able to move forward into the testing process very 
quickly.
    IMMI expressed its support of the agency's proposal to extend the 
FMVSS No. 210 requirements to all seating positions. It believed that 
FMVSS No. 210 is a better choice than either ECE R.14 or ECE R.80 since 
it is a more realistic representation of the types of crash forces that 
may be experienced in real-world crashes, and reflects the total forces 
that may be experienced by the seat anchorage from both restrained and 
unrestrained occupants. IMMI said that compliance with FMVSS No. 210 is 
already achievable and is currently available in motorcoach seating. 
IMMI stated that, at the time of submission of its comments to the 
NPRM, at least three manufacturers of covered buses offer IMMI's 
Premier[supreg] FMVSS No. 210 compliant seats in their vehicles. IMMI 
also stated that it helped these manufacturers develop the necessary 
floor and wall structure to meet the performance standard.
    IMMI also stated that it performed sled tests of its own seats and 
found that the data produced were consistent with the agency's 
findings. In addition, IMMI said the results of analytical simulations 
of severe case loading were also similar to the agency's data. (These 
data are discussed below.) AORC agreed with the agency's proposal to 
apply the FMVSS No. 210 anchorage load requirement.
    Five bus manufacturers (Setra, Prevost, IC Bus, MCI, and Van Hool) 
and ABC Companies, a distributor of Van Hool's buses, commented on the 
proposal to apply the FMVSS No. 210 anchorage load requirements to all 
seating positions in covered buses. These commenters were divided in 
their views.
    Setra, a European bus manufacturer, preferred the ECE regulations, 
stating that the ECE regulations have been successfully used in Europe. 
Setra stated that VRTC's testing might not represent realistic 
situations, and that seats meeting FMVSS No. 210 may lead to higher 
injuries than a seat meeting the ECE ``impact requirements.''
    Prevost requested that NHTSA consider the M2 requirements of ECE 
R.14, which it stated is based on a ``closer and more realistic 
deceleration pulse'' than the proposed FMVSS No. 210 requirements. 
Prevost stated that the load from an unbelted occupant behind the seat 
as well as the weight of the seat should be included in the forces 
applied to the seat, but ``the deceleration pulse must be diligently 
specified since it has a very significant multiplying effect.'' Prevost 
also recommended that the requirements be reduced for seats where there 
is no possibility of an unbelted passenger being seated behind it.
    IC Bus agreed with the agency's conclusion that FMVSS No. 210 
should be extended to all seating positions in covered buses. IC Bus 
noted that when it builds a commercial bus that specifies seat belts, 
it is built to meet the applicable requirements of FMVSS No. 210.
    MCI disagreed with the proposal to apply FMVSS No. 210 to all 
seating positions, believing that NHTSA has not tested a sufficiently 
broad spectrum of seating configurations. The commenter suggested that 
the agency duplicate the same or similar test conditions with emphasis 
on protecting women and children. The commenter submitted confidential 
test data from sled tests it conducted, and recommended a form of 
static testing on a bus frame using a unique loading profile that 
combined aspects of ECE R.14 (10 g; M2 vehicles) and FMVSS No. 210.
    Van Hool, a European bus manufacturer, supported adopting ECE R.14 
and ECE R.80. Van Hool stated that a ``true European seat'' cannot 
fulfill the FMVSS No. 210 requirements as proposed in the NPRM because 
the loads are three times that required by ECE R.14 and the strength of 
the seat is limited by the energy-absorbing

[[Page 70452]]

capabilities required by ECE R.80 for unbelted passengers striking the 
seat from behind. In its submission, Van Hool questioned whether the 
Amaya seats that were used in the NHTSA VRTC tests, which according to 
Amaya met the ECE R.14 requirements for M3 and M2 vehicles, were also 
approved to ECE R.80 since this was not mentioned in the NPRM. Van Hool 
also asked why the NPRM did not consider a proposal for adding a 10 g 
standard for large buses into FVMSS No. 207, ``Seating systems.'' \121\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \121\ By this we believe Van Hool meant applying half the forces 
specified by FMVSS No. 210 to the seat belt anchorages and an 
inertial load to the seat, assuming a 10 g deceleration instead of 
the 20 g specified in FMVSS No. 207.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    ABC Companies supported an approach that allows compliance with 
either the U.S. standards or preexisting European standards, to 
facilitate harmonization of standards.
    Transportation providers Greyhound, Coach USA, UMA and American Bus 
Association (ABA) were divided in their support of the proposed 
application of FMVSS No. 210 anchorage load requirements.
    Greyhound strongly supported the agency's proposal to apply the 
FMVSS No. 210 requirements to the passenger seat anchorages. Greyhound 
stated that the 10 percent strength margin that the FMVSS No. 210 loads 
provided is prudent since ``higher speeds and larger passengers than 
those [reflected in the VRTC tests] will sometimes be involved in real 
world crashes.'' Greyhound stated that it sees no basis for allowing 
the European standards as an alternative to FMVSS No. 210. It commented 
that FMVSS No. 210 is ``clearly the more appropriate standard'' when 
compared to ECE R.14 and ECE R.80 because FMVSS No. 210 accounts for 
the load of both the belted passenger in the seat and an unrestrained 
passenger in the seat behind, whereas the European standards do not. 
Greyhound stated that it has been installing IMMI Safeguard Premier 
seats, which meet FMVSS No. 210 and other FMVSSs, in all of its new 
buses since 2008.
    UMA supported the FMVSS No. 210 requirements. UMA stated that it 
reviewed the data provided by NHTSA in the NPRM and concluded that seat 
belt assembly anchorages that meet FMVSS No. 210 will perform in a 
manner that offers occupants the highest known protection in ``real-
life'' crash and rollover occurrences.
    ABA favored allowing motorcoach manufacturers to certify their 
vehicles to either the FMVSS requirements proposed in the NPRM or, at 
the manufacturer's option, to ECE R.14 and ECE R.80. ABA stated that 
the agency's proposed performance requirements accurately represent the 
agency's results of its motorcoach crash and sled testing and 
subjecting passenger seating to FMVSS No. 210 reasonably matches the 
forces and loads in NHTSA's test results. However, ABA also suggested 
that in light of what the commenter believed would be the panoply of 
new regulations that may be adopted, the considerable costs involved, 
the relatively small volume of new covered buses sold each year and the 
global nature of the industry, compliance options permitting 
harmonization will enhance flexibility, reduce costs and promote the 
overall turnover of the fleet towards newer vehicles.
    Coach USA also supported the approach of allowing manufacturers to 
comply with either FMVSS No. 210 or ECE R.14 and ECE R.80. The 
commenter stated that its parent company, Stagecoach Group, 
headquartered in Scotland, operates approximately 780 motorcoaches in 
Europe that are equipped with seat belts that meet the EU standards, 
and the belts ``have not proven to pose a safety issue over a period of 
several years.'' The commenter believed that ECE R.14 ``is sufficient 
to accomplish NHTSA's primary goal in this rulemaking, namely, ejection 
prevention in rollovers.'' Coach USA stated that NHTSA did not suggest 
that seat belts designed to meet FMVSS No. 210 are necessary to achieve 
this level of effectiveness in rollover crashes. The commenter believed 
that frontal crashes resulting in forces on the seat back exceeding 
those of ECE R.14 are ``rare.'' Coach USA believed that FMVSS No. 210 
will provide little, if any, benefit in frontal crashes beyond the 
benefits produced by ECE R.14.
    Coach USA commented that a combination of ECE R.14 and ECE R.80 is 
likely to provide some safety benefits compared to FMVSS No. 210 by 
protecting unbelted passengers. It stated that, to the extent that 
FMVSS No. 210 provides some benefit relative to the European standard 
in severe frontal crashes, this benefit is offset in other areas and, 
as a result, the two ECE standards would appear to provide an 
approximately comparable level of safety when all relevant factors are 
taken into account.
    Coach USA submitted a separate report to the agency which detailed 
a sled test study that it conducted on Van Hool motorcoach seats, which 
they stated comply with ECE R.14 (for M3 vehicles) and ECE R.80. Coach 
USA conducted sled testing and FMVSS No. 210 static testing on Van Hool 
motorcoach seats installed on a test ``buck'' representing the interior 
of a motorcoach. In the tests, three rows of seats were mounted on the 
test buck. The first row (front row) was unoccupied, the second was 
occupied with Hybrid III 50th percentile adult male test dummies that 
were restrained with lap/shoulder belts, and the third row was occupied 
with two unrestrained 50th percentile adult male Hybrid III test 
dummies. Coach USA stated that the restrained dummies in the second row 
remained restrained and the seat remained attached to the replicated 
bus, and the commenter said, provided protection for the belted 
occupants.
    Subsequently, Coach USA conducted an FMVSS No. 210 test on a new 
Van Hool seat, and the seat failed to meet the standard's strength 
requirements. Coach USA concluded that FMVSS No. 210 is ``not a 
necessary requirement for safety. . . . [A] motor coach seat that is 
able to comply with ECE R.80 dynamic test or its dynamic equivalent 
such as FMVSS [No.] 208 would assure more protection than a seat that 
is able to meet FMVSS [No.] 210 requirements.''

Agency Response

    In accordance with the Vehicle Safety Act and the Motorcoach 
Enhanced Safety Act, after considering all relevant, available safety 
information, we have determined that the FMVSS No. 210 requirements are 
reasonable, practicable, and appropriate for the seat belt anchorages 
on buses affected by this final rule (buses with a GVWR greater than 
11,793 kg (26,000 lb)). Our reasons for adopting the FMVSS No. 210 
requirements, set forth in the NPRM (75 FR at 50973-50975), were 
supported and bolstered by diverse commenters. The information provided 
by all the commenters enhanced our knowledge of the subject matter. The 
requirements we have adopted take into account the impact to seating 
capacity of changes to size and weight of motorcoaches and the ability 
to comply with State and Federal size and weight requirements, as 
required by section 32703(e), ``Application of Regulations,'' of the 
Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act, and are based on the best available 
science, as mandated by section 32703(e) of the Act.

Safety Need

    There is a safety need to apply FMVSS No. 210 to the passenger seat 
belt anchorages of the affected buses. NHTSA has decided not to accept 
the European requirements because ECE R.14 and ECE R.80 do not consider 
the totality of loads resulting from (a) belted occupants, (b) unbelted 
occupants aft of

[[Page 70453]]

the belted occupant, and (c) the inertia load of the seat, i.e., the 
``tri-loading'' from the three in a motorcoach crash. We believe FMVSS 
No. 210 is needed to ensure the belt anchorages can protect the belted 
occupant. The static load requirements specified in ECE R.14 (for M2 
and M3 vehicles) and ECE R.80 are far below that needed to generate the 
peak seat anchorage loads that NHTSA measured in its sled tests, which 
means a seat that minimally meets the ECE required static loads for M3 
vehicles may separate from its floor anchorages in a crash of the 
severity represented by the 48 km/h (30 mph) frontal barrier impact 
performed by NHTSA.
    In its comment supporting the application of FMVSS No. 210, IMMI 
stated that it performed tests on its own seats after the NPRM and 
found that the sled test data were consistent with the agency's data 
provided in the NPRM. IMMI stated that its test data supported the 
agency's view that FMVSS No. 210 is a more realistic representation of 
the crash forces that may be experienced in real-world crashes than 
those of ECE R.14 and ECE R.80. The commenter reported that in over 20 
sled tests using 50th and 95th percentile test dummies, IMMI found an 
average total x-direction (fore-aft) component force of 51,983 N 
(11,686 lb) for its 2-occupant seat, which it stated was ``near the 
FMVSS [No.] 210 specified requirement of 26,688 N per position or 
53,376 N per 2-occupant seat.'' \122\ The close similarity between 
IMMI's sled tests and NHTSA's sled tests reinforces the conclusion that 
the FMVSS No. 210 requirements are reasonable and appropriate for the 
seats on the affected buses.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \122\ NHTSA notes that the FMVSS No. 210 load is required to be 
applied at an initial angle of 5 to 15 degrees above the horizontal 
resulting in an x-direction component force that is lower than 
53,380 N; therefore, it is more accurate to compare IMMI's forces to 
the x-direction component of the applied FMVSS No. 210 load, which 
is from 51,561 N to 53,177 N for a 2-occupant seat. This indicates 
that the average total loads that IMMI recorded in its sled tests 
were within the load range that may be experienced in an FMVSS No. 
210 test; their maximum loads were only slightly above those of 
FMVSS No. 210. [Footnote not in quoted text.]
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Other safety information from IMMI also supports the validity of 
the agency's data. In its comment, IMMI said that it performed two 
analytical simulations, one with two unrestrained 50th percentile males 
seated behind two restrained 50th percentile males and another with two 
unrestrained 95th percentile males seated behind two restrained 50th 
percentile males, which resulted in total x-direction component forces 
of 56,196 N (12,633 lb) and 57,451 N (12,916 lb), respectively. The 
peak total loads in both of IMMI's simulations are also slightly above 
the loads which may be experienced in an FMVSS No. 210 test, the 
largest being 8 percent [57,451 N/53,177 N] above the largest x-
direction component expected in an FMVSS No. 210 test. In addition, the 
IMMI simulations indicated that sustained loads of 40,000 N (8,992 lb) 
to 50,000 N (11,240) for approximately 100 milliseconds following the 
peak loads are possible in real-world crashes, which are only slightly 
below the loads applied in an FMVSS No. 210 test.

Reasonable and Appropriate

    As noted above, Coach USA supported the approach of allowing 
manufacturers to comply with either FMVSS No. 210 or ECE R.14 and ECE 
R.80. Coach USA states that FMVSS No. 210 will provide little, if any, 
benefit in frontal crashes beyond the benefits produced by ECE R.14. 
Coach USA said that only 0.16 fatalities from high speed frontal 
crashes into rigid roadside objects would be prevented annually by the 
rule, assuming a 15 percent seat belt use rate. It stated that, even if 
seat belts are used in motorcoaches at the same rate they are used in 
passenger vehicles (83 percent), the expected number of fatalities 
prevented per year for this kind of crash is still less than one. It 
also argued that these estimates do not take into account that some of 
the crashes in which the most harmful event was listed as ``Roadside'' 
were not the type of crash simulated by NHTSA (involving direct frontal 
impact into a rigid object at 48 km/h (30 mph)). Thus, Coach USA 
suggested NHTSA overestimated the estimated number of fatalities the 
rule will prevent annually.
    In response, accident data show that it is reasonable to base a 
standard on data from a 48 km/h (30 mph) barrier test, i.e., that it is 
reasonable to assume that the test is representative of a realistic, 
severe crash condition. As discussed earlier in this preamble, FARS 
data show that frontal impacts represent a substantial amount (41.6 
percent [87/209]) of the fatalities in buses affected by this final 
rule. Moreover, the covered buses can travel on high speed roads where 
the risk of a high speed impact is foreseeable. The NTSB has 
investigated a number of high speed frontal crashes that likely 
underwent a velocity change (delta-V) comparable to or exceeding the 
crash test performed by NHTSA, as illustrated in Table 6.\123\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \123\ We note that the investigation of these crashes provided 
crash speed, which is not directly comparable to the barrier impact 
speed in the 48 km/h (30 mph) NHTSA crash test. However, these 
impact speeds ranged from double to 2\1/2\ times the barrier crash 
speed. Depending on the object struck, this suggests a crash 
severity (as represented by a velocity change (delta-V)) similar to 
or greater than the barrier impact.

    Table 6--Examples of Frontal Motorcoach Crashes Investigated by the NTSB Involving Impact Velocities Well in Excess of the NHTSA 48 km/h (30 mph)
                                                                   Barrier Crash Test
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                            Injury severity [dagger]
              Incident                   Total    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------     Approximate impact
                                       occupants            Fatal                   Serious             Minor         None              velocity
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Osseo 2005..........................           45  5 (inc. driver)........  5......................           30            5  102-126 km/h.
                                                                                                                               (64-78 mph).
Tallulah 2003.......................           15  8......................  7 (inc. driver)                    0            0  97-105 km/h.
                                                                             [Dagger].                                         (60-65 mph).
Loraine 2002........................           38  3......................  6 (inc. driver)........           24            5  77-89 km/h.
                                                                                                                               (48-55 mph).
New Orleans 1999....................           44  22.....................  16.....................            6            0  93 km/h. (58 mph).
Burnt Cabins 1998...................           23  7 (inc. driver)........  1......................           15            0  97-105 km/h.
                                                                                                                               (60 to 65 mph).
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
[dagger] Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 830.2 defines fatal injury as ``any injury which results in death within 30 days of the accident''
  and serious injury as ``any injury which: (1) Requires hospitalization for more than 48 hours, commencing within 7 days from the date the injury was
  received; (2) results in a fracture of any bone (except simple fractures of fingers, toes, or nose); (3) causes severe hemorrhages, nerve, or tendon
  damage; (4) involves any internal organ; or (5) involves second- or third-degree burns, or any burn affecting more than 5 percent of the body
  surface.''

[[Page 70454]]

 
[Dagger] One of the seriously injured passengers died due to accident injuries 35 days after the accident. Only fatalities resulting within 30 days of
  the accident are included as fatal injuries in the NTSB reports.

    Frontal crashes of the subject buses can be just as devastating as 
rollovers, as shown by the 1999 New Orleans crash that took the lives 
of 22 people on the bus.\124\ Our updated field data show that frontal 
impacts represent a substantial amount (41.6 percent [87/209]) of the 
fatalities. Therefore, while our primary focus in this rulemaking was 
on ejection mitigation in rollovers, our initiative, consistent with 
NHTSA and the Department's focus on increasing overall safety in these 
vehicles, was also focused on frontal \125\ and other planar crashes. 
We believe it would be a short-sighted public policy to define the 
requisite level of performance of the seat belt anchorages considering 
only rollovers when the affected buses are involved in other severe 
crashes as well. Requiring anchorage strength that addresses a safety 
need for frontal crashes will not degrade the performance of these 
restraints in rollovers. Requiring anchorage strength that addresses 
only rollovers could degrade the performance of the belts in severe 
frontal crashes.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \124\ In March 2012, a frontal crash of a tour bus on a highway 
near Sierre, Switzerland, took the lives of 28 people, 22 of whom 
were children. http://apnews.excite.com/article/20120314/D9TG77QO0.html.
    \125\ This was shown by our proposal to require lap/shoulder 
belts for occupants and not just lap belts alone, based on the data 
from the VRTC frontal crash testing of the motorcoach.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    NHTSA's frontal passenger crash protection requirements are 
developed to address foreseeable crashes of different severities, up to 
and including severe crashes. FMVSS No. 208 specifies a 56 km/h (35 
mph) rigid barrier belted test for passenger-carrying vehicles with 
GVWRs of 3,856 kg (8,500 lb) or less. FMVSS No. 208 and FMVSS No. 210 
ensure, to the degree practicable, that at least a minimum level of 
crash protection will be provided to the occupants of passenger-
carrying vehicles in the event the vehicles crash at the higher speeds 
at which they are driven. This final rule extends this principle to 
buses with a GVWR greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb).
    The operation of the affected buses at high speeds can be observed 
on roadways every day, and crash data files show the repeated 
involvement of the affected buses in high speed crashes. The risk of 
injury in a high speed crash is high. NHTSA has determined it is 
important to ensure that the seat and lap/shoulder seat belt system on 
the affected buses will withstand the crash energy that was measured in 
the 48 km/h (30 mph) frontal barrier test. It is important that the 
seat-to-floor attachments have the ability to withstand the forces 
resulting from tri-loading of the bus seat (the total load on the 
subject seat from restrained occupants in the seat, unrestrained 
occupants rearward of the seat, and the inertia of the seat itself) and 
that the lap/shoulder belt system will not fail to restrain the 
occupant when subjected to the load from the restrained occupant and 
the unrestrained occupant aft of the seat. The static load requirements 
of ECE R.14 for M2 and M3 vehicles are both well below the level needed 
to produce the anchorage loads measured in the agency's sled tests. 
Even if the ECE R.14 static loads are applied simultaneously with the 
ECE R.80 static loads, which is not required by the ECE regulations, 
the total load still falls below that measured by the agency.\126\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \126\ Seat back impact and energy absorption are discussed later 
below.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The FMVSS No. 210 loads also have a margin of safety that ensure 
the integrity of the seat and lap/shoulder belt anchorages at higher 
speeds than that replicated by the VRTC test and with occupants of 
larger mass than the test dummies used in the agency's tests. In its 
comment in support of the proposal, transportation provider Greyhound 
believed that the 10 percent strength margin that the FMVSS No. 210 
loads provided is prudent since ``higher speeds and larger passengers 
than those [reflected in the VRTC tests] will sometimes be involved in 
real world crashes.'' The operator has first-hand knowledge of the 
operating conditions and the wide range in the weights of passengers 
using the affected vehicles.
    Coach USA estimated that requiring motorcoach passenger seats to 
meet FMVSS No. 210 will only reduce fatalities in frontal crashes by 
0.16 per year assuming seat belt usage of 15 percent and that it would 
still be less than one fatality per year if seat belt usage is the same 
as in passenger vehicles (83 percent). It stated that the success of 
the ECE R.14/ECE R.80 over the past decade in Europe suggests that the 
European standards are effective in the overwhelming majority of 
crashes. For these reasons, Coach USA stated that FMVSS No. 210 will 
provide little, if any, benefit in ``rare'' frontal crashes in terms of 
reducing fatalities relative to ECE R.14.
    We have previously explained our reasons not to accept ECE R.14 and 
ECE R.80 and our basis for concluding that FMVSS No. 210 is appropriate 
for the vehicles covered by this final rule. We note here that it is 
correct that fatalities in the affected vehicles are relatively 
``rare'' in comparison to the injuries and deaths in light vehicle 
crashes. Even with this rarity, we have assessed the benefits and costs 
of this rule and have found the rule to be cost effective at an assumed 
lap/shoulder belt use of 4 to 5 percent.
    Prevost requested that NHTSA consider the M2 requirements of ECE 
R.14, which it believed is based on a ``closer and more realistic 
deceleration pulse'' than the proposed FMVSS No. 210 requirements. 
Prevost believed that the load from an unbelted occupant behind the 
seat as well as the weight of the seat should be included in the forces 
applied to the seat, but did not believe that there was a correlation 
between the peak load obtained with a 13 g sled test and the loads 
required in FMVSS No. 210.
    Prevost did not explain in its comment why it suggested there is 
not a correlation between the peak loads obtained in the VRTC testing 
and the loads required in FMVSS No. 210. In contrast, the best 
available data show there is a correlation. The agency's sled tests, 
which used a pulse modeled after the crash pulse from an actual crash 
of an over-the-road bus, demonstrated that the total loads at the seat-
to-floor attachment for motorcoach seats with integrated lap/shoulder 
belts reached levels that are very close to those generated by the 
current FMVSS No. 210 requirements.
    Further, the best available data do not support a finding that the 
ECE R.14 for M2 buses uses a ``closer and more realistic deceleration 
pulse.'' The ECE R.80 pulse bears very little resemblance to an actual 
crash pulse of the affected vehicles due to the lower energy, faster 
ramp-up, shorter duration, and potentially higher peak of the ECE 
pulse, compared to the 13 g pulse obtained from the actual crash of an 
over-the-road bus. The unrepresentative ECE R.80 crash pulse may yield 
dummy injury values that are not realistic. When the agency subjected 
the same seat and dummy configurations to both the ECE R.80 pulse and 
the pulse obtained by VRTC from an actual motorcoach crash, differences 
in the injury values, especially with respect to the head, and to a 
lesser extent the femurs, were observed. The injury values were 
generally higher with the

[[Page 70455]]

ECE pulse, and lap/shoulder belted dummies exceeded the HIC IARV in 
several tests.\127\ The higher injury values were likely a result of 
the faster ramp-up of the ECE pulse, which created a higher closing 
velocity between the dummy and the seat back ahead of it in spite of 
the dummies carrying less total energy as compared to the VRTC pulse.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \127\ See tables A.2 and A.6, test types 1 though 5, 7G seats 
subjected to the VRTC and EU pulses in research report DOT HS 811 
335, NHTSA's Motorcoach Safety Research Crash, Sled, and Static 
Tests, dated May 2010.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    We are unable to agree to Prevost's suggestion that the strength 
requirements be adjusted (reduced) for seats where there are no other 
seats behind it (and therefore no unbelted passengers seated behind 
it). We are aware that some operators of covered buses have changed the 
passenger seating configuration from that set by the factory or have 
removed and reinstalled seats. If ``weaker'' seats are moved after the 
factory installation to a position that had a passenger seat behind it, 
the weaker seat would not provide the performance required by FMVSS No. 
210. Furthermore, this final rule provides some of the flexibility 
Prevost seeks. Under this final rule, seats with no other seats behind 
them are not required to have the lap/shoulder belt anchorages attached 
to the seat structure. For these seats, the lap/shoulder belt 
anchorages can be attached directly to the vehicle structure.
    European bus manufacturer Van Hool supported adopting ECE R.14 and 
ECE R.80. Van Hool stated that a ``true European seat'' cannot fulfill 
the FMVSS No. 210 requirements because the loads are three times that 
required by ECE R.14, and because the strength of the seat is limited 
by the energy-absorbing capabilities required by ECE R.80 for unbelted 
passengers striking the seat from behind. Van Hool believed that the 
Amaya seats tested by NHTSA in our research program were seats made in 
Mexico for the American market and were not true European seats.
    In response, all information available to NHTSA indicate that 
European seats can meet FMVSS No. 210 and ECE R.14 and ECE R.80. The 
available information show that the Amaya seats tested at VRTC, which 
passed FMVSS No. 210, were designed to meet both ECE R.14 and ECE R.80. 
Our knowledge of the seats meeting ECE R.14 and ECE R.80 is based on 
information provided by Amaya.
    Van Hool was not clear in what it meant by its claim that a ``true 
European seat'' cannot meet FMVSS No. 210. It is true that the static 
load requirements for ECE R.14 and ECE R.80 are far below that required 
to generate the peak seat anchorage loads that NHTSA measured in its 
sled tests. Thus, if Van Hool meant that a seat that minimally meets 
the ECE required static loads for M3 vehicles would not meet FMVSS No. 
210, that may be correct. However, such a seat may separate from its 
floor anchorages in a crash, especially in a severe frontal crash at 
seats where tri-loading occurs, which NHTSA deems unacceptable.
    If Van Hool meant that a seat that meets ECE R.14 and R.80 is 
technically unable to meet FMVSS No. 210, we do not agree. The 
technical information from our research program shows that meeting 
FMVSS No. 210 and ECE R.14 and R.80 are not mutually exclusive. It is 
technically possible for a manufacturer to design a seat that 
withstands the loads required by FMVSS No. 210 and that deflects upon 
forces applied from the rear. This is because FMVSS No. 210 requires 
the seat belt anchorages to ``withstand'' the loads applied to them; 
there is no limit on or specification for how the seat back may 
displace except in the absolute, gross sense: The seat back (with 
integrated shoulder belt anchorages) cannot fail to withstand the 
applied forces, e.g., the seat cannot break apart, or the seat's 
pedestal cannot pull from the floor of the bus. Meeting FMVSS No. 210 
does not entail designing the seat back to be a ``stone wall,'' as Van 
Hool worded it. The seat back has to be strong enough to withstand the 
FMVSS No. 210 forces, but there is no impediment in the standard that 
prevents a manufacturer from designing the seat back to withstand the 
requisite loads of FMVSS No. 210 while deflecting in a controlled 
manner to absorb forces applied from the rear.\128\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \128\ Moreover, even if ECE R.80 cannot be met by a seat meeting 
FMVSS No. 210, that issue is not determinative as to whether FMVSS 
No. 210 should be adopted. NHTSA has not decided whether ECE R.80 
best addresses seat deformation characteristics. Several seat 
manufacturers have suggested that the seat deflection requirements 
of FMVSS No. 222, ``School bus passenger seating and crash 
protection,'' should be applied to seats on the buses covered by 
this final rule, and have reported that their seats meet both FMVSS 
No. 210 and FMVSS No. 222's seat deflection requirements. This is 
discussed in a later section of today's preamble.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The ability of the seat back to absorb the loading from the rear 
seat passenger is an aspect of performance not regulated by FMVSS No. 
210. Manufacturers have the ability, the leeway, and, we maintain, the 
responsibility to design energy-absorbing seat backs to account for the 
loading from an occupant aft of the seat, if they believe energy 
absorption is an appropriate aspect of performance to address. This 
final rule provides the opportunity and flexibility to manufacturers to 
develop innovative seat back designs.
    Van Hool asked why the NPRM did not consider a proposal for adding 
a 10 g standard for large buses into FVMSS No. 207,\129\ as it claims 
was done in ECE R.14. The commenter provided the table below (shown as 
Table 7) of how such a standard could have been proposed and how it 
would compare to FMVSS No. 210.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \129\ By this we believe Van Hool meant applying half the forces 
specified by FMVSS No. 210 to the seat belt anchorages and a 
inertial load to the seat assuming a 10 g deceleration instead of 
the 20 g specified in FMVSS No. 207.

     Table 7--Van Hool's Example of an Alternative ``10 g'' Standard
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                    Alternative standard
                               FMVSS No. 210 as by     at 10 g (for a
                                      NPRM           single seat of 22.5
                                                             kg)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Upper anchorages............  13,345 N (3,000 lb).  6,818 N (1,533 lb).
Lower anchorages............  13,345 N (3,000 lb).  6,818 N (1,533 lb).
Seat Mass inertia...........  0...................  2,250 N (506 lb).
Unbelted passenger..........  0...................  6,800 N (1,529 lb).
Total forces................  26,690 N (6,000 lb).  22,686 N (5,101 lb).
Total moments...............  16,014 Nm (11,811 lb- 13,954 Nm (10,292
                               ft).                  lb).
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In response, we did not develop such a standard. This is because 
NHTSA determined the appropriate loads by first measuring the seat 
anchorage loads in a dynamic sled test using the VRTC pulse, and then 
applying static loads to

[[Page 70456]]

another seat, using various methods, until the loads measure in the 
sled test could be recreated.\130\ The example ``10 g'' loads Van Hool 
presented still appear to be below the force levels necessary to 
generate the same peak seat anchorage loads that were measured in the 
VRTC sled test. On the other hand, the FMVSS No. 210 loading is only 15 
percent [16,014 N/13,954 N] greater than the loading that Van Hool 
suggested. As such, the FMVSS No. 210 loading provides a slight factor 
of safety over the Van Hool approach. We note that the Van Hool 
approach is a function of seat mass. If a greater seat mass were 
assumed, the difference between the FMVSS No. 210 loading and the Van 
Hool approach would decrease further.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \130\ This process was described in the NPRM (75 FR at 50958) 
and explained in detail in research report DOT HS 811 335, ``NHTSA's 
Motorcoach Safety Research Crash, Sled, and Static Tests,'' dated 
May 2010. The method described as ``Method B'' in the research 
report, which used the loading devices and technique specified in 
FMVSS No. 210, reproduced the anchorage loads that were measured in 
the VRTC sled tests when a total load equal to 91 percent of that 
required by FMVSS No. 210 was applied through the loading device.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    MCI disagreed with the proposal to apply FMVSS No. 210 to all 
seating positions, believing that NHTSA has not tested a sufficiently 
broad spectrum of seat configurations. The commenter suggested that the 
agency duplicate the same or similar test conditions with emphasis on 
protecting women and children. The commenter submitted confidential 
test data from sled tests it conducted using a representative 
motorcoach frame (test buck) and a variety of dummy, seat, restraint, 
seat spacing (pitch) and acceleration pulse combinations, and 
recommended a form of static testing on a bus frame using a unique 
loading profile that combined aspects of ECE R.14 (10 g; M2 vehicles), 
ECE R.80, and FMVSS No. 210.
    We do not agree that MCI's suggested test is preferable to FMVSS 
No. 210. The tests that MCI used to draw its conclusions appear to have 
used the ECE R.80 or a similar pulse, which does not sufficiently 
represent a real-world crash pulse of the affected vehicles (for the 
reasons previously stated in this section in response to Prevost). In 
addition, we believe that the injury values MCI recorded were generally 
higher than the values recorded by the agency in the VRTC sled tests, 
especially for the smaller unrestrained occupants, due to the greater 
seat pitch (seat spacing) used in the MCI tests. This is explored 
further in the section below, on seat back energy absorption.
    Coach USA submitted a separate report to the agency which detailed 
a study that it conducted on Van Hool motorcoach seats, which they 
stated comply with ECE R.14 (for M3 vehicles) and ECE R.80. It stated 
that the objective of its study was ``to evaluate the protective 
capability of the Van Hool motor coach seats in the severe crash 
environment employed by NHTSA and to determine if the seat systems 
(which were certified to the European standards) can meet the 
requirements of FMVSS 210.''
    In its study, Coach USA conducted sled testing and FMVSS No. 210 
static testing on Van Hool motorcoach seats that were installed on a 
test ``buck'' that Coach USA said was fabricated to closely represent 
the interior of a motorcoach. The test buck used the same aluminum seat 
mounting tracks and hardware as those used in a motorcoach, with the 
exception of the seat mounting track to floor fasteners, which were 
high-strength steel screws and washers as opposed to the rivets used in 
the actual motorcoach. The test configurations were essentially 
identical to those used in NHTSA's motorcoach seat sled and static 
tests described in the NPRM. The tests were performed at Transportation 
Research Center (TRC) Inc., located in East Liberty, Ohio, which is the 
same facility that performed NHTSA's testing.
    In its sled tests, Coach USA mounted three rows of seats on the 
test buck at a seat pitch of 800 mm (31.5 inches). The first row (front 
row) was unoccupied, the second was occupied with Hybrid III 50th 
percentile adult male test dummies that were restrained with lap/
shoulder belts, and the third row was occupied with two unrestrained 
50th percentile adult male Hybrid III test dummies. Coach USA used an 
acceleration pulse that the commenter described as ``slightly more 
severe'' than the pulse used in the NHTSA test, with a delta-V just 
over 40 km/h (25 mph) and a peak deceleration of 9.7 g, as compared to 
a delta-V of 40 km/h (25 mph) and a peak deceleration of 9.5 g in the 
NHTSA tests.
    Coach USA described the results of its sled test as follows:

    The restrained dummies in the second row remained restrained, 
but contacted the back of the first row of seats. The second row of 
seats sustained some damage from the forces resulting from the 
belted dummies pulling and the unbelted dummies impacting the seats 
from the rear. The seat backs were severely distorted, and a small 
section of the floor rail was pulled upward pulling free from two of 
the mounting screws. But the seat remained attached to the ``bus'' 
providing protection for the belted occupants.

    Coach USA also noted that the second row slid forward about 5 
inches (127 mm) in the side-wall mounting track, but it claimed this 
did not create any apparent deviation from expected results, based on a 
comparison of the left side restrained dummy injury traces with 
corresponding traces from the NHTSA tests. It reported the injury 
measures shown in Table 8 and explained that these values are well 
below the thresholds for frontal passenger protection in FMVSS No. 208 
for the 50th percentile adult male dummy.

       Table 8--Coach USA's Van Hool Seat Study Second Row Dummy Injury Measures, as Reported by Coach USA
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                    Femur Load
                                                                                                   (average. of
          Seat position                HIC15          Chest g       Chest Defl.         Nij          right and
                                                                                                       left)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Inj. Ref. Values................             700            60 g           63 mm             1.0        10,000 N
Left Seat.......................             331            22 g          7.4 mm            0.52         1,930 N
                                           (47%)           (37%)           (12%)           (52%)           (19%)
Right Seat......................             464            20 g          5.5 mm            0.50         3,647 N
                                           (66%)           (33%)            (4%)           (50%)           (36%)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Coach USA noted that the injury values measured for the belted 
dummies in its test of the Van Hool seats are very comparable to those 
measured in the NHTSA sled tests for the Amaya 7 g seats. In addition, 
it stated that the Van Hool seat structure had no evidence of being 
compromised in any way as a result of the test. From these data, Coach

[[Page 70457]]

USA concluded that ``it can be expected that real world injuries in 
motorcoaches equipped with Van Hool Seats when involved in similar 
crash environments would be low.''
    Following the sled test, Coach USA conducted an FMVSS No. 210 test 
on a new Van Hool seat using the same test buck and new mounting 
tracks. It performed the test following the same protocol that was used 
in NHTSA's FMVSS No. 210 tests of motorcoach seats reported in the 
NPRM.\131\ Coach USA reported that the Van Hool seat and seat belt 
anchorages withstood a total load of approximately 35,584 N (8,000 lb) 
applied through the seat belts before ``severe structur[al] failure 
began to occur.'' The test was terminated at a total applied load of 
37,808 N (8,500 lb), which is short of the FMVSS No. 210 requirement of 
53,380 N (12,000 lb) for a seat with two seating positions and lap/
shoulder belts. The report indicated that the seat pulled completely 
free from the rear bracket mount to the side-wall track and the left 
side tubing structure of the seat was fractured in several locations.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \131\ See research report DOT HS 811 335, ``NHTSA's Motorcoach 
Safety Research Crash, Sled, and Static Tests,'' May 2010.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    From these tests, Coach USA concluded overall that ``a seat that is 
able to comply with the dynamic requirements in FMVSS [No.] 208 would 
be able to offer adequate protection to the occupants in motor coaches 
[sic] and FMVSS [No.] 210 compliance is not a necessary requirement for 
safety. Therefore, a motorcoach seat that is able to comply with ECE 
R.80 dynamic test or its dynamic equivalent such as FMVSS [No.] 208 
would assure more protection than a seat that is able to meet FMVSS 
[No.] 210 requirements.'' It stated that it is questionable whether any 
benefits will be derived by requiring FMVSS No. 210 since its 
comparison of the Amaya and Van Hool seat tests ``clearly show that the 
occupant protection performance of both seats in the sled test are 
equivalent,'' even though the Amaya 7 g seat meets the strength 
requirements of FMVSS No. 210 tests while the Van Hool seat does not.
    In response, we have carefully reviewed Coach USA's submission, but 
cannot agree with the commenter's interpretation of the test results.
    Although the injury values recorded in the sled test for the 
restrained test dummies in the second row were within the IARVs for 
FMVSS No. 208, we are concerned about the reported damage to the seat 
anchorage tracks of the second row seat (this seat reportedly did not 
meet FMVSS No. 210). Coach USA reports that, although the second row 
seat remained attached to the ``bus,'' the row sustained ``damage from 
the forces resulting from the belted dummies pulling and the unbelted 
dummies impacting the seats from the rear. The seat backs [of the 
second row seat] were severely distorted, and a small section of the 
floor rail was pulled upward pulling free from two of the mounting 
screws.'' NHTSA believes that this damage, particularly at the floor 
rail, may be is an indication that the anchorage system was near 
failure. If the seats were occupied by people heavier than 50th 
percentile adult males, or the seat pitch (spacing) were different, or 
if the pulse of the crash were different, the loads carried by any one 
seat could be increased, with possible seat anchorage failure. We 
believe that the seat would have withstood the sled test forces better 
had it been designed to meet FMVSS No. 210. The results did not show a 
lack of a safety need for FMVSS No. 210.
    Second, we cannot conclude that the Van Hool seats minimally met 
the requirements of the ECE regulations. The Coach USA FMVSS No. 210 
test of the Van Hool seat found that the seat and anchorages are much 
stronger than the minimum necessary to meet the static load 
requirements of ECE R.14 for M3 or M2 vehicles. The seat withstood a 
load 100 percent greater than that for M3 vehicles and 33 percent 
greater than that for M2 vehicles. Yet, the seat anchorage was 
substantially damaged in the sled test, suggesting that anchorages of 
seats that minimally met the static load requirements of ECE R.14 for 
M2 or M3 vehicles may perform even more poorly in the sled test.
    Third, we note that the data in Appendix B of the Coach USA report 
indicated that both unrestrained 50th percentile male dummies in the 
third row had HIC15 values exceeding the IARV for FMVSS No. 
208 of 700. One unrestrained dummy had a HIC15 of 731, while 
the other had a HIC15 of 1,139. The second row seat that the 
dummies impacted reportedly met ECE R.80. The results bring into 
question whether ECE R.80 is able to provide head protection to 
unbelted occupants in severe frontal crashes (protection for unbelted 
occupants has been one of the key points voiced by several commenters 
that support adopting the European regulations).
    Based on these observations, we do not agree that the data support 
a finding that FMVSS No. 210 is unnecessary.
    Coach USA questioned in its report whether the NHTSA static test of 
the Amaya 7 g seat, which was found to withstand the FMVSS No. 210 
loads, was ``precisely'' a FMVSS No. 210 test (i.e., mounted the same 
as in a bus).
    Our answer is that an FMVSS No. 210 compliance test is performed 
in-vehicle, as required by FMVSS No. 210, whereas the test performed 
for the research program was a simulated in-vehicle test. The test is 
simulated for research purposes to obtain as much data as possible 
while conserving research monies and resources. However, the agency's 
research test was carefully designed to be indicative of the actual 
seat and anchorage performance.
    Coach USA questioned whether the Amaya 7 g seat was mounted to the 
test fixture without a pedestal, based on Figure 62 in the NHTSA 
research report that was docketed with the NPRM.
    Our response is yes, the seat was mounted on its pedestal and was 
also attached to a fixture simulating the side wall of the bus. The 
photograph of the seat from which Coach USA made this observation was a 
lateral view from the right which obscured the left side pedestal. The 
setup for these tests, which used actual motorcoach seat mounting rails 
and hardware at the seat attachment points instead of load cells, can 
be viewed in Figure 59 of report DOT HS 811 335, NHTSA's Motorcoach 
Safety Research Crash, Sled, and Static Tests, May 2010.
    Several commenters requested NHTSA to allow alternative compliance 
with the ECE regulations. While NHTSA has the authority to consider 
alternative compliance with other existing standards such as ECE 
regulations, alternative compliance is appropriate under the Vehicle 
Safety Act when such a framework meets the safety need addressed by the 
rulemaking. Alternative compliance can be provided in such a case 
because the safety objectives of the rulemaking will be achieved no 
matter if a manufacturer selects one alternative or another. NHTSA does 
not have information in this situation that supports a finding that 
allowing the alternative of certification to both ECE regulations would 
meet the safety needs of this rulemaking. NHTSA conducted a preliminary 
comparison of the proposed FMVSS No. 210 standard with ECE R.14/ECE 
R.80, included on page 106 of the accompanying FRIA, which shows that 
the separately applied ECE regulations provide for lower seat anchorage 
strength than FMVSS No. 210. Specifically, NHTSA's analysis and sled 
and static testing indicate that ECE R.14/ECE R.80 do not provide the 
level of seat belt anchorage strength needed to address the foreseeable 
frontal crash scenario represented by a 48 km/h (30

[[Page 70458]]

mph) barrier impact, whereas the FMVSS No. 210 requirement does.
    NHTSA was unable to obtain any information (either publically 
available, through public comments or directly from the European Union) 
on how the ECE R.14 and R.80 regulations were established or the 
rationales underlying them. Given the lack of underlying analytical and 
scientific information available to NHTSA, the agency is unable to 
conclude that the safety needs of this rulemaking would be met by 
allowing alternative compliance with the ECE standards. NHTSA is not 
able to allow alternative compliance with the ECE standards in this 
rulemaking in particular given Congress's direction in the Motorcoach 
Enhanced Safety Act to base the regulation ``on the best available 
science'' (MAP-21, section 32703(e)(1)(C)).
    We note, however, that despite having found that FMVSS No. 210 is 
more effective with respect to seat anchorage strength than 
certification to both ECE R.14 and ECE R.80, NHTSA keeps an open mind 
about new developments in motor vehicle safety. In the future, the 
agency would be willing to consider data and other sound information, 
beyond that which has already been considered by the agency, from 
persons wishing to demonstrate that the ECE regulations are not less 
protective than FMVSS No. 210. In addition, NHTSA is currently planning 
to research motorcoach seat back performance, and depending on the 
results and evidence, may consider adopting some form of seat back 
energy absorptions in the future. At that time, we will take into 
consideration ECE R.80 and any other relevant information.

Practicable

    The agency has concluded that meeting FMVSS No. 210 is practicable, 
and meeting FMVSS No. 210 with a seat that has deformation capability 
is also practicable. In its comment, seat manufacturer C.E. White 
stated that it has proven that a light weight single frame seat 
structure can be manufactured to meet the FMVSS No. 210,\132\ and the 
commenter provided confidential test data for one of its seat models 
which supported its claim. Seat manufacturer IMMI also stated that it 
offers a seat with lap/shoulder seat belts that meets the requirements 
of FMVSS No. 210.\133\ IMMI stated that at least three motorcoach 
manufacturers offer IMMI's Premier[supreg] FMVSS No. 210 compliant 
seats in their vehicles at the time of its submission of comments. 
Greyhound stated that it has been purchasing IMMI Safeguard Premier 
seats, which meet FMVSS No. 210 and other FMVSSs, in all of its new 
motorcoaches since January 2008. IC Bus noted that when it builds a 
commercial bus that specifies seat belts, it is built to meet the 
applicable requirements of FMVSS No. 210. This information on the 
development and introduction into the motorcoach fleet of seats with 
anchorages that meet FMVSS No. 210 clearly demonstrates that the 
requirement to extend the FMVSS No. 210 requirements to all seating 
positions in motorcoaches is practicable.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \132\ C.E. White also stated that the bus seat can meet the seat 
back deflection and quasi-static requirements of FMVSS No. 222.
    \133\ IMMI stated that the seat also meets FMVSS No. 222.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Implications of FMVSS No. 210 on Seat Weight, Cost, and Comfort

    NHTSA has developed this final rule taking into account the impact 
to seating capacity of changes to size and weight of subject buses and 
the ability to comply with State and Federal size and weight 
requirements, in satisfaction of section 32703(e) of the Motorcoach 
Enhanced Safety Act. We requested comments on the benefits and costs of 
adopting ECE R.14 over FMVSS No. 210 and whether motorcoach seats will 
need to be made significantly heavier, stiffer, or less comfortable in 
order to meet the strength requirements of FMVSS No. 210. We stated in 
the NPRM that the agency did not believe there would be adverse 
consequences associated with applying FMVSS No. 210 to seat belt 
anchorages on the affected vehicles, based on data from our test 
program.

Comments

    Eight comments specifically discussed the effects that the more 
stringent strength requirements of FMVSS No. 210 (compared to ECE R.14) 
will have on seat weight, comfort, and cost. Commenters were divided in 
their views of the effect that meeting FMVSS No. 210 would have on bus 
weight, comfort, and cost.
    Seat manufacturer C.E. White commented that it has manufactured a 
lightweight single frame seat structure that meets the criteria of 
FMVSS No. 210, with energy absorption capability, and provided 
confidential data supporting its claim.
    In response to the agency's question on whether adopting FMVSS No. 
210 over ECE R.14 will increase cost and weight, seat manufacturer IMMI 
said that its own review determined that adopting ECE R.14 would result 
in only minor material reductions, resulting in minimal savings per 
seat assembly.
    Conversely, bus manufacturer Prevost stated that introduction of 
lap/shoulder belts will increase the weight of an affected bus by at 
least 454 kg (1,000 lb). It commented that the more stringent the 
standard is, the heavier the vehicle is, and manufacturers cannot 
afford adding weight if it is not justified. Prevost stated that cargo 
capacity is affected by added weight, and each 79 kg (175 lb) added 
could potentially reduce the passenger capacity by one.
    Bus manufacturer Van Hool stated that requiring buses to meet FMVSS 
No. 210 specifications will result in increased vehicle and seat 
weight, increased vehicle and seat price, increased seat size, 
decreased passenger comfort, and reduced passenger service. Van Hool 
believed that integration of the FMVSS No. 210 requirements into its 
vehicle platforms will force Van Hool to initiate new and different 
production infrastructure and methods, thus increasing manufacturing 
cost, in addition to the added structural material that would need to 
be used in the process. The commenter stated that these factors would 
raise the price of vehicles, and the additional structural material 
would result in additional deadweight of the coach as a whole, even 
without seats.
    On the other hand, transportation provider Greyhound stated that 
its real-life experience has demonstrated that there are no adverse 
consequences to meeting FMVSS No. 210 related to weight, comfort, or 
cost. Greyhound made the following statement concerning the Safeguard 
Premier seat manufactured by IMMI, which Greyhound said it has been 
ordering in its new motorcoaches since 2008:

    These seats and their seat belt assemblies and anchorages comply 
with FMVSS standards 208, 209, 210, 213, 225, and 302. The SafeGuard 
Premier also complies with the forward and rearward seat back energy 
curves defined in FMVSS [No.] 222. The installation of these seats 
has not caused Greyhound to reduce the number of passengers it can 
accommodate. The seats are quite comfortable, do not weigh 
appreciably more than seats equipped with belts meeting the European 
standard, and are competitively priced.

    Transportation provider Coach USA commented that FMVSS No. 210 will 
result in passenger seats that are larger/bulkier, more rigid/stiffer, 
less comfortable, and more expensive than those that meet the European 
standards and that FMVSS No. 210 will increase the overall weight of 
the affected vehicles. It also stated the larger FMVSS No. 210 
compliant seats will require carriers to remove four seats (one row) 
from their buses, reducing seating

[[Page 70459]]

capacity and increasing the cost of operations. Coach USA claims 
decreased seat comfort along with the increased seat cost and decreased 
capacity, which will be passed on as cost to the customer, may increase 
the number of individuals that choose ``the more dangerous option'' of 
travel by passenger car over motorcoach travel.
    In a supplemental comment, Coach USA provided estimates of the cost 
and weight penalties of compliance with FMVSS No. 210 as compared to 
compliance with ECE R.14/ECE R.80. It compared seats offered by IMMI, 
which Coach USA said were the only FMVSS No. 210 compliant seats on the 
market at the time of its analysis, to Van Hool seats meeting the 
European regulations.\134\ Coach USA determined that the total weight 
of the IMMI seats required to outfit a single deck motorcoach is 1,615 
kg (3,560 lb) at a total cost of $37,800, whereas the total weight of 
the Van Hool seats required to outfit the same bus is 1,196 kg (2,637 
lb) at a cost of $29,830. The commenter stated that, for a double-
decker bus, the IMMI seats have a total weight of 2,263 kg (4,988 lb) 
at a cost of $53,716, whereas the Van Hool seats have a total weight of 
1,676 kg (3,695 lb) at a cost of $42,390. Coach USA noted that these 
estimates do not include costs associated with reinforcement of the bus 
floor for FMVSS No. 210, which NHTSA estimated at $3,000 per bus in the 
PRIA. It also added that the cost penalties did not include the reduced 
fuel efficiency of transporting ``heavier'' FMVSS No. 210 compliant 
seats, which it estimated as an increase in lifetime fuel cost of 
$4,584 to $6,217 for a single deck motorcoach and $6,422 to $8,710 for 
a double-decker motorcoach.\135\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \134\ Coach USA's submission estimated that a standard IMMI two 
occupant seat weighs 54 kg (119 lb), an IMMI slider seat weighs 73 
kg (161 lb), a Van Hool standard two occupant seat weighs 40 kg (88 
lb), and a Van Hool slider seat weighs 54 kg (119 lb).
    \135\ Coach USA extrapolated these costs from data provided in 
NHTSA, Preliminary Regulatory Impact Analysis, FMVSS No. 208 
Motorcoach Seat Belts (August 2010).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Coach USA was concerned about the cumulative impact of possible 
regulations resulting from NHTSA's Motorcoach Safety Plan on the weight 
of motorcoaches. It stated that Federal law imposes weight limits on 
commercial vehicles on public highways, and while motorcoaches are 
currently exempt from the general weight limitation, they are still 
subject to a limit of 10,866 kg (24,000 lb) per axle. It stated that 
many motorcoaches are already close to this upper limit. Coach USA 
noted that the motorcoach weight exemption is up for legislative 
renewal in the upcoming transportation reauthorization and if the 
exemption is not continued, motorcoaches will be required to meet the 
general weight limitation, which is currently a maximum of 9,072 kg 
(20,000 lb) per axle. Coach USA stated that even if the exemption is 
renewed, manufacturers are likely to struggle to comply with the new 
NHTSA regulations that will add weight, such as roof crush and window 
glazing standards, while remaining under the statutory weight limit. 
Coach USA believed that the European seat belt standard will not 
increase the weight of motorcoaches to the same degree as FMVSS No. 
210.

Agency Response

    The information available to the agency on cost and weight varied 
greatly. Commenters opposed to the adoption of FMVSS No. 210 (Prevost, 
Van Hool, Coach USA, and Chicago Sightseeing) \136\ \137\ suggested 
that motorcoach passenger seats with anchorages that meet FMVSS No. 210 
will be heavier than their European counterparts, whereas commenters 
Greyhound (a transportation provider already purchasing and operating 
buses with lap/shoulder belts and FMVSS No. 210 compliant seats), IMMI 
and C.E. White (seat suppliers already manufacturing and selling FMVSS 
No. 210 compliant seats in the U.S. for the affected buses, with lap/
shoulder belts) stated that in their experience, the seats do not weigh 
appreciably more.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \136\ Prevost, Van Hool, and Coach USA are or are affiliated 
with European bus manufacturers or operators.
    \137\ Bus driver David Kollisch estimated that heavier load-
rated seat belts proposed in the NPRM will add 4,536 kg (10,000 lb) 
to a motorcoach, but provided no basis for this estimate.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The relevant, best available information on this issue is 
persuasive in support of a finding that seats meeting FMVSS Nos. 208 
and 210 \138\ will not weigh appreciably more than seats meeting the 
ECE regulations. We found the information provided by Greyhound, IMMI, 
and C.E. White compelling due to its empirical basis and the 
commenters' first-hand experience with the subject seats. In addition, 
we also evaluated Australia's experience with lap/shoulder belt 
requirement for motorcoaches, and learned that bus seats with integral 
lap/shoulder belts have been developed to meet Australian Design Rule 
68 (requiring lap/shoulder seat belts with a 20 g crash force 
capability) that were ``more than twice as strong, weighed less and 
were not significantly more expensive (excluding the cost of seat 
belts) to produce than the original products.'' \139\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \138\ As well as meeting FMVSS No. 222's seat deflection 
requirements.
    \139\ ``Three Point Seat Belts On Coaches--The First Decade In 
Australia,'' Griffiths et al., Abstract ID 05-0017, 19th 
International Technical Conference on the Enhanced Safety of 
Vehicles, June 2005, http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/pdf/esv/esv19/05-0017-O.pdf (cited also in footnote 39, August 18, 2010 NPRM).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Prevost, Van Hool, and Coach USA estimated that lap/shoulder belt-
equipped seats meeting FMVSS No. 210 weigh much more than seats meeting 
ECE R.14 and ECE R.80. According to Prevost, the installation of lap/
shoulder belts increases the weight of the affected vehicles by at 
least 454 kg (1,000 lb) and each 79 kg (175 lb) could reduce the 
passenger capacity by one. Van Hool estimated that a two-occupant seat 
with FMVSS No. 210 anchorages will weigh about 15 kg (33 lb) more than 
its ECE R.14/ECE R.80 seats, which the commenter said is a 420 kg (926 
lb) increase for a 56-passenger bus. In its estimate, Van Hool 
approximated the weight of an EU-approved lap/shoulder belt equipped 
seat at 36 kg (79 lb) and an FMVSS No. 210 compliant seat at 51 kg (112 
lb). Coach USA estimated that a standard two-occupant Van Hool EU-
approved seat at 40 kg (88 lb), a Van Hool slider seat version at 54 kg 
(119 lb), an IMMI seat with FMVSS No. 210 anchorages at 54 kg (119 lb), 
and an IMMI slider seat version at 73 kg (161 lb). It stated that the 
IMMI seats resulted in a 419 kg (923 lb) increase in weight over the 
Van Hool seats for a single deck motorcoach and a 586 kg (1,293 lb) 
increase for a double-deck motorcoach.
    Only Coach USA identified the manufacturer of the FMVSS No. 210 
seat that it used in its weight estimate--IMMI--and, according to the 
data it used in its vehicle weight estimate, the two-occupant IMMI seat 
is 14 kg (31 lb) heavier that the ECE-approved Van Hool seat. Yet, IMMI 
had stated in its comment that there would be only limited-to-minor 
material reductions, resulting in minimal cost and weight savings per 
seat assembly if the anchorage requirements were reduced to ECE R.14 
loads. (IMMI did not quantify these savings.)
    To understand better Coach USA's comment, we looked closer at the 
IMMI seat used by Coach USA in its estimate and realized that the 
particular IMMI seat had design features that added weight to the seat, 
such as IMMI's SafeGuard SmartFrame TM technology. Because 
the features are not needed for the seat to meet FMVSS No. 210 and all 
other applicable FMVSSs, we determined the seat was not

[[Page 70460]]

representative of a typical seat with FMVSS No. 210 compliant 
anchorages. We concluded that a more typical seat advertised as having 
anchorages that meet the FMVSS No. 210 requirements is the Amaya-Astron 
Torino G and A-210 model coach seats, which are available through 
Freedman. These seats weigh 39 kg (86 lb) and 40 kg (88 lb), 
respectively,\140\ as opposed to the weight of the IMMI seat as 
reported by Coach USA (weighing 54 kg (119 lb)).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \140\ Weight data was provided by Freedman.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The information from the seat manufacturers was compelling, since 
they are now selling the seats at issue. Seat manufacturer C.E. White 
commented that it has been proven that a lightweight single frame seat 
structure can be manufactured that meets the criteria of FMVSS No. 210, 
with energy absorption capability, and provided confidential data 
supporting its claim. IMMI stated that its own review determined that 
the reduction of the anchorage requirements to those of ECE R.14 will 
result in minor material reductions, resulting in minimal savings per 
seat assembly.
    We found the information provided by Greyhound of striking 
importance, since the commenter has first-hand experience operating 
buses with FMVSS No. 210 compliant, lap/shoulder-equipped passenger 
seats. Greyhound stated that it has installed IMMI seats that meet the 
FMVSS No. 210 requirements in its newer buses, and found in its real-
life experience there has been no adverse consequences related to 
weight, comfort, or cost.
    The Australian motorcoach industry had similar concerns regarding 
increased seat weight with the introduction of Australian Design Rule 
68 (ADR 68) in 1994.\141\ The ADR 68 dynamic test requirements use a 20 
g acceleration pulse, which is 1.5 times greater than the pulse used in 
the NHTSA sled tests, and the ADR 68 static test total loads are also 
significantly greater than those required by FMVSS No. 210.\142\ In 
spite of the more stringent requirements of ADR 68, Australian 
motorcoach seat suppliers have reported that ADR 68 seats with 
integrated lap/shoulder belts weigh approximately 25 kg (55 lb) to 30 
kg (66 lb) for a two-occupant seat.\143\ Styleride (http://www.styleride.com.au) and McConnell Seats Australia (http://www.mcconnellseats.com.au) currently manufacture seats in this weight 
range that meet ADR 68 requirements. These ADR 68 compliant seats are 
lighter than the current lap/shoulder belt equipped IMMI and Van Hool 
seats, yet meet anchorage strength requirements that exceed that 
required by FMVSS No. 210.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \141\ Griffiths et al., ``Three Point Seat Belts on Coaches--The 
First Decade in Australia,'' supra.
    \142\ ADR 68 has both dynamic and static test options. For the 
dynamic option, ADR 68 requires a crash pulse with a 49 km/h (30.4 
mph) delta-V and a peak deceleration of 20 g for at least 20 
milliseconds. In comparison, the NHTSA motorcoach crash test had the 
same delta-V, and a 13 g deceleration. Based on the 1.5 greater 
deceleration in the ADR 68 crash pulse, we estimate peak belt 
anchorage loading would be 1.5 times greater than that measured in 
the NHTSA test. Recall that the agency research determined that 
FMVSS No. 210 static loading was about 1.1 times the peak loading 
from sled testing performed with the motorcoach crash pulse. Thus, 
the static load generated by the ADR 68 dynamic options is 
approximately 1.4 (1.5/1.1) times that of FMVSS No. 210. The ADR 68 
static loading is a combination of belt pull forces, push forces on 
the seat back and inertial loading based on the seat mass. A 
comparison can be made between the x-direction (fore-aft) loading 
created by FMVSS No. 210 and ADR 68, assuming a specific seat mass 
(30 kg (66 lb)) and belt pull angle (20 degrees above horizontal). 
This analysis indicates the ADR 68 static load option generates 
approximately 1.3 times the loading of FMVSS No. 210 in the x-
direction.
    \143\ Id.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In view of the above information, NHTSA concludes that the concerns 
expressed about increased seat weight are without merit. Lap/shoulder 
belt-equipped seats that meet the requirements of FMVSS No. 210 are 
available in the U.S. that are equivalent in weight to the European 
seats, and will continue to be available after this final rule.

Other Concerns

    Some commenters expressed concerns that the weight increases to the 
bus seats resulting from meeting FMVSS No. 210 would potentially reduce 
fuel economy, reduce passenger-carrying capacity, and affect axle 
weight limits. After considering all available information, we have 
determined these concerns to be unfounded. In view of the light weight 
of ADR 68 seats, and the information from C.E. White, IMMI and 
Freedman, we believe that the average weight increase of the affected 
buses resulting from this rule will be in line with the estimates made 
in the agency's cost tear-down study.\144\ The agency's cost tear-down 
study attempts to estimate only the weight of the lap/shoulder belt 
addition. It estimated that the weight of a domestic bus seat added was 
2.7 kg (5.98 lb) per 2-person seat, resulting in a 54 passenger bus 
weight increase of 73.0 kg (161 lb). Any further increase in vehicle 
weight, or reduction in passenger capacity, will result from the 
manufacturer's or purchaser's selection (or design) of seat models and 
features.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \144\ See NHTSA Docket No. NHTSA-2011-0066-004.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Van Hool, Coach USA, and ABA submitted comments that discussed the 
cost implications of requiring passenger seats on the affected buses to 
meet FMVSS No. 210 as compared to ECE R.14/ECE R.80. Coach USA provided 
an analysis comparing the total cost to outfit its single and double-
decker motorcoaches with IMMI seats that meet FMVSS No. 210, as 
compared to Van Hool seats that meet ECE R.14/ECE R.80 requirements. 
Coach USA estimated that the additional cost to fully outfit a vehicle 
with IMMI seats, as opposed to Van Hool seats, to be $10,970 for a 
single deck bus and $13,768 \145\ for a double-decker bus (including 
the estimated cost of $3,000 for reinforcement of the bus floor). This 
estimate for the single deck bus is slightly less than, but reasonably 
in line with, the estimate of $12,900 in the PRIA. However, it is 
significantly higher than our estimate in the FRIA of $2,110 to add 
lap/shoulder belts for the passenger seats in a 54 passenger bus, which 
is based on the cost tear-down study.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \145\ There may be an error in Coach USA's double-deck estimate 
because it reported a total seat cost for the IMMI and Van Hool of 
$53,716 and $42,390 respectively, which results in a difference of 
$11,326.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    However, Coach USA also estimated the related increase in lifetime 
fuel costs due to what the commenter believed would be the extra weight 
of the IMMI seats to be $4,584 and $6,217, at 3 percent and 7 percent 
discount rates, respectively.\146\ This is a significant increase over 
that estimated in the PRIA and FRIA. We believe that the 54 kg (119 lb) 
IMMI seats Coach USA used in its estimate may represent seats at the 
higher end of the weight spectrum for FMVSS No. 210 seats. As explained 
above, ADR 68 seats that can withstand anchorage loads in excess of 
FMVSS No. 210 loads weigh as little as 25 kg (55 lb) to 30 kg (66 lb) 
for a two-occupant seat. Seat suppliers C.E. White and IMMI affirm the 
practicability of manufacturing lightweight seats meeting FMVSS No. 
210.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \146\ Coach USA's estimate was based on a weight increase of 419 
kg (923 lb) and was extrapolated from the values of $1,812 and 
$1,336 estimated in the PRIA for a weight increase of 122 kg (269 
lb).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    We conclude that the data indicate that seats meeting FMVSS No. 210 
will result in little, if any, increase in total vehicle weight, 
depending on how efficiently the vehicle seat and/or attachment points 
are strengthened. Considering the weight of 40 kg (88 lb) of current 
Van Hool seats (according to Coach USA's submission), the data indicate 
there may even be a total weight decrease if the weight can be

[[Page 70461]]

reduced to the 25 kg (55 lb) to 30 kg (66 lb) weight of ADR 68 seats.
    We do not believe that requiring passenger seats on the affected 
buses to be equipped with anchorages that meet FMVSS No. 210 will 
necessarily reduce seat comfort (because of increased stiffness) as 
suggested by Van Hool and Coach USA. Seat comfort is more dependent on 
seat cushion design elements such as cushion material, thickness, 
shape, and cover, rather than on the underlying frame. If the ability 
of a seat to meet FMVSS No. 210 requirements equated to reduced 
comfort, then this problem would have arisen in newer passenger 
vehicles that have seats with fully integrated seat belts, especially 
with the front seats of most convertibles and some rear seats of 
multipurpose passenger vehicles. Importantly, Greyhound, which has been 
operating buses with IMMI lap/shoulder belt equipped passenger seats 
that meet FMVSS No. 210 since 2008, stated ``The installation of these 
seats has not caused Greyhound to reduce the number of passengers it 
can accommodate. The seats are quite comfortable, do not weigh 
appreciably more than seats equipped with belts meeting the European 
standard, and are competitively priced.'' After considering the above 
information we conclude that the data indicate that seats meeting FMVSS 
No. 210 will not reduce seat comfort or unduly affect costs.

Harmonization

    Commenting in support of the ECE regulations, European manufacturer 
Van Hool stated that implementation of FMVSS No 210 will require 
vehicle manufacturers to rethink their structural concept and 
production, which will increase manufacturing cost and the price of 
motorcoaches, which will ultimately be passed on to customers, whereas, 
Van Hool stated, harmonization with the European standards would avoid 
such costs. Coach USA and American Bus Association (ABA) submitted 
similar comments and added that harmonization would enhance flexibility 
and promote turnover of the fleet to newer motorcoaches.
    NHTSA has compared ECE R.14 and ECR R.80 to FMVSS No. 210 to see if 
the ECE regulations offer greater benefits than FMVSS No. 210. We have 
not found ECE R.14 and ECE R.80 to be sufficient to protect against 
foreseeable crash risks.\147\ Our sled and static testing indicated 
that ECE R.14/ECE R.80 regulations do not provide the level of seat 
belt anchorage strength required for the foreseeable frontal crash 
scenario represented by a 48 km/h (30 mph) barrier impact. The static 
load requirements for ECE R.14 and ECE R.80 are far below that required 
to generate the peak seat anchorage loads that NHTSA measured in its 
sled tests, which means a seat that minimally meets the ECE required 
static loads for M3 vehicles may separate from its floor anchorages in 
a crash, especially in a severe frontal crash at seats where tri-
loading occurs.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \147\ Coach USA asserted that all of the frontal benefits we 
estimated resulting from meeting FMVSS No. 210 would be 
insignificant, a claim we have refuted.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    We have also compared ECE R.14 and ECR R.80 to FMVSS No. 210 to see 
if the ECE regulations offer less costs than FMVSS No. 210. The 
information from the seat manufacturers indicate that meeting ECE R.14 
and R.80 would not necessarily result in cost or weight savings. Seat 
supplier IMMI stated that its own review determined that meeting ECE 
R.14 would result in minor material reductions, resulting in minimal 
savings per seat assembly. U.S. seat suppliers C.E. White and IMMI and 
possibly others already have established their structural concepts and 
production to meet FMVSS No. 210.
    When Australia decided to mandate lap/shoulder belts for passenger 
seats in motorcoaches, Australia determined that the then-existing ECE 
regulation (ECE R.80) was not sufficient to ensure seats would not fail 
in the type of catastrophic coach crashes the country sought to 
address.\148\ Australia had been in the process of considering adopting 
ECE R.80, but decided that a regulation based on ECR R.80 would not 
have been effective in those crashes. Id. Australia developed and 
adopted ADR 68 to address the safety need it identified.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \148\ Griffiths et al., ``Three Point Seat Belts on Coaches--The 
First Decade in Australia,'' supra. The authors state that in 1989, 
a coach crash resulted in 19 fatalities and a second crash resulted 
in 35 fatalities. Both crashes were head-on crashes (the first with 
a heavy truck, the second with another coach) on a highway with a 
speed limit of 100 km/h (62.1 mph). Id.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    We have thoroughly assessed the ECE regulations at issue to compare 
the benefits achievable under ECE R.14 and ECE R.80 and FMVSS No. 210, 
in accordance with guiding principles for harmonization. There is a 
large disparity between the anchorage load requirements of ECE R.14 and 
R.80 and FMVSS No. 210. While a seat meeting FMVSS No. 210 could be 
readily designed to also meet ECE R.14 and ECE R.80, seats just meeting 
the strength requirements for even M2 vehicles would not be capable of 
complying with FMVSS No. 210. Thus, a compliance option is unacceptable 
to NHTSA, since it would permit part or all of the covered bus fleet 
being equipped with seat belt anchorages that cannot withstand the 
forces generated in foreseeable frontal crashes.

Seat Back Impact and Energy Absorption

    In the NPRM, NHTSA requested comment on the energy-absorbing 
capability of current seat backs to provide impact protection to 
occupants. Unbelted occupants in the NHTSA sled tests, primarily 5th 
percentile female dummies, had HIC and Nij values in excess of IARVs 
when they struck the seat back in front of them. Additionally, in some 
sled tests the belted dummies interacted with the forward seat back 
when unbelted dummies in the rear seat struck their seat back, 
resulting in elevated HIC and Nij values to the belted dummies. We 
asked for information on whether there may be some potential for seat 
backs to become stiffer to accommodate the additional loads from seat 
belts. We requested information on specifications on force-deflection 
characteristics and/or impact deceleration characteristics for seat 
backs, such as the absorption test in ECE R.80 and the impactor test in 
ADR 68.

Comments

    Eleven commenters addressed the issue of seat back stiffness, with 
many suggesting that NHTSA consider adding impact and/or energy 
absorption requirements such as those in ECE R.80, FMVSS No. 201, 
``Occupant protection in interior impact,'' or FMVSS No. 222.
    Several commenters believed that ECE R.14 and ECE R.80 should be 
adopted instead of FMVSS No. 210, based in large part on the fact that 
ECE R.80 has seat back energy absorption requirements while FMVSS No. 
210 does not. This issue was addressed earlier in this preamble and, to 
avoid redundancy, we will not repeat here our reasons for adopting 
FMVSS No. 210 rather than the ECE regulations. We reiterate, however, 
that the ability of the seat back to absorb the loading and provide 
protection for the rear seat passenger is an aspect of performance not 
regulated by FMVSS No. 210. Manufacturers have the ability to meet 
FMVSS No. 210 and to design energy-absorbing seat backs to account for 
the loading from an occupant aft of the seat, if they believe energy 
absorption is an appropriate aspect of performance to address.
    In this section of the preamble, we explore whether there is a need 
for NHTSA to regulate in this area. In the comments, there was no 
consensus that

[[Page 70462]]

ECE R.80's energy absorption requirements were the preferred approach. 
Many comments were submitted on this issue. Several commenters 
suggested that FMVSS No. 222's seat deflection requirements were 
superior to those of ECE R.80. Some commenters expressed support for 
FMVSS No. 201's requirements.
    Seat supplier C.E. White believed that NHTSA should regulate seat 
back energy absorption characteristics, and recommended that NHTSA 
adopt the school bus compartmentalization requirements of FMVSS No. 
222. C.E. White commented that ``without a limitation on the deflection 
of the upper torso anchorage point of the test seat you stand the 
chance of jeopardizing the protection of compartmentalization for the 
unrestrained occupants to the rear of the test seat due to override of 
the seat back or diminish the torso restraint effectiveness for the 
restrained occupants of the test seat.''
    Seat supplier Freedman stated that some energy absorption 
capability should be built into seat backs for passenger protection and 
recommended that FMVSS No. 201 be used as a reference for any energy 
absorption standards for seats in motorcoaches.
    Seat supplier IMMI stated that consideration must be made for 
injury reduction of unrestrained passengers and, to that end, a 
requirement for motorcoach seats to provide energy-absorbing 
capabilities as a passive form of occupant protection should be adopted 
by NHTSA. IMMI expressed concern that as seat backs are developed to 
meet the requirements of FMVSS No. 210, severe stiffening of the seat 
backs will occur which it stated may increase the injury potential for 
unrestrained occupants. IMMI stated that existing non-belted motorcoach 
seat backs offer minimal injury mitigating energy-absorbing capability 
and that the seat backs fold over and direct occupants up into the 
overhead racks. IMMI also stated that it studied some European seats 
meeting ECE R.14 and ECE R.80, both at the M2 (10 g) and M3 (7 g) 
levels, and found them to have anchorages that withstood the loads 
specified in FMVSS No. 210, but have seat backs with ``unacceptably low 
seat back energy absorption when subjected to the [FMVSS No. 222] load 
deflection test.'' IMMI stated that in sled tests it conducted, it 
found that these ECE seats folded forward and directed the unrestrained 
dummies out of the seat compartment, which resulted in HIC values over 
600.\149\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \149\ Although not specifically reported by IMMI, we assume this 
is a HIC15 value, with a limit of 700, since IMMI 
referenced FMVSS No. 208.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Based on its studies, IMMI recommended that NHTSA adopt seat back 
energy absorption requirements for seats on the affected buses. It 
suggested that a static test similar to the forward and rearward force/
deflection tests specified in FMVSS No. 222 could be used to assess 
energy absorption of the seat back. In addition, IMMI suggested that 
the following requirements be established for motorcoach passenger 
seats:
     A minimum seat back height of 150 mm above the shoulder 
belt anchor point to reduce the potential for ``rideover'' by taller 
occupants.
     A minimum shoulder belt anchor point height of 520 mm 
above the seating reference point, which is equal to that required for 
school bus seats.
     Criteria to provide occupant impact protection with the 
interior of buses, including the seat back surface and items such as 
tray tables, video screens, coat hooks, and grab handles.
     Criteria for seat spacing, seat orientation, use of 
tables, and all other arrangements that could factor into proper energy 
absorption of a seat back for an unrestrained occupant.
    Bus manufacturers MCI, Setra, and Van Hool provided comments 
regarding impact and energy absorption requirements for the passenger 
seats. MCI was concerned about the energy-absorbing capability of seat 
backs meeting FMVSS No. 210 and recommended a form of static testing on 
a bus frame using a unique loading profile that combined aspects of ECE 
R.14 (10 g; M2 vehicles) and FMVSS No. 210. Setra stated that the ECE 
``impact requirements'' were needed to guard against ``personal 
injury.'' \150\ Van Hool said that energy absorption requirements for 
an unbelted passenger should be addressed and that the static test of 
ECE R.80 is similar to the compartmentalization requirement in FMVSS 
No. 222 for school buses.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \150\ ECE R.80 is conducted with the occupant both belted and 
unbelted and it specifies a HlC of 500 for an occupant hitting the 
seat in front.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Greyhound stated that NHTSA should specify seat back energy 
absorption standards. Greyhound stated that it is installing the IMMI 
seat on all of its new equipment in large part because of the seat's 
unique energy-absorbing capability.

Agency Response

    In general, all of the commenters who responded on this issue were 
concerned that requiring motorcoach passenger seats to meet the 
requirements of FMVSS No. 210 will result in stiffer seat backs that 
may be more injurious to occupants seated behind them, particularly 
unbelted occupants. Commenters recommended that NHTSA adopt some form 
of energy absorption requirement for the seat back. Five of the 
commenters (CE White, Freedman, IMMI, American Seating, and Greyhound) 
recommended that seat back energy absorption requirements from existing 
FMVSSs be extended to motorcoach passenger seats. One commenter (MCI) 
recommended an alternate static load test which it suggested would 
prevent stiffening of the seat backs. Five of the commenters (Setra, 
Van Hool, Coach USA, ABA and ABC) recommended adoption of the European 
regulations, partly because ECE R.80 has seat back energy absorption 
requirements.
    As explained earlier in this document, seat stiffening as it 
relates to impacts from belted and unbelted occupants into the seat 
back in front of them is not an inevitable consequence of meeting FMVSS 
No. 210. FMVSS No. 210 does not impose displacement limits on the seat 
belt anchorages; therefore, the anchorages (and seat back, in this 
case) must simply be strong enough to withstand the required loads and 
can deform in the process. IMMI indicated in its comment that it found 
in some tests of European seats that the seats met FMVSS No. 210, but 
had ``unacceptably low'' seat back energy absorption when subjected to 
the FMVSS No. 222 forward load deflection static test. IMMI also noted 
that in sled tests the seat backs of these seats folded forwarded and 
directed test dummies out of the compartment. Both these behaviors are 
indicative of seat backs that are not stiff enough, rather than too 
stiff with respect to their ability to provide compartmentalization for 
unbelted occupants.
    The commenters varied significantly in their views as to the 
appropriateness of various approaches for the covered buses.
    Some commenters supported FMVSS No. 222's school bus requirements. 
FMVSS No. 222 is a complex, multifaceted standard that requires very 
strict seating requirements in order for compartmentalization to 
function properly. Applying the concepts of the standard to the buses 
covered under today's final rule could result in school bus style seats 
and barriers, with very tight seat spacing, which may or may not be 
appropriate for the covered buses. We are unable to adopt FMVSS No. 
222-type compartmentalization

[[Page 70463]]

requirements for the passenger seats in the affected buses at this 
time, without fully considering the safety need for the requirements, 
in addition to related benefits, costs, practicality, and technical 
challenges. In addition, such a requirement could not be adopted 
without providing the public an opportunity to comment on this issue.
    We cannot agree at this time that the seat back energy absorption 
requirements of ECE R.80 are most appropriate. The seats advertised as 
ECE R.80 compliant that were tested by the agency in support of the 
NPRM, particularly in the full vehicle barrier impact, did not 
demonstrate ``energy absorption'' or ``compartmentalization'' 
characteristics. IMMI's tests of European seats also showed a lack of 
compartmentalization and energy absorption. Coach USA's tests of Van 
Hool ECE-approved seats resulted in HIC15 values for the 
unrestrained occupants that were above the IARV set in FMVSS No. 208.
    NHTSA will undertake further testing of seat backs on affected 
vehicles to further evaluate the energy absorbing capability of current 
seats. Section 32705 of the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act directs the 
Secretary to research and test enhanced occupant impact protection 
technologies for motorcoach interiors to reduce serious injuries for 
all passengers of motorcoaches and to research and test enhanced 
compartmentalization safety countermeasures for motorcoaches, including 
enhanced seating designs. The Act states that not later than two years 
after the completion of such research and testing, the Secretary shall 
issue final motor vehicle safety standards if the Secretary determines 
that such standards meet the requirements and considerations of section 
30111(a) and (b) of the Vehicle Safety Act.

XVII. Lead Time

    The NPRM proposed a 3-year lead time for new bus manufacturers to 
meet the new lap/shoulder seat belt requirements. We believed that 3 
years were necessary since some design, testing, and development will 
be needed to certify compliance to the new requirements. We proposed to 
permit optional early compliance with the requirements.

Comments

    Coach USA supported the proposed 3-year lead time. It concurred 
that the lead time period would allow companies to do the planning and 
testing involved and would ease the financial burden. UMA also 
supported a 3-year lead time with early compliance permitted.
    Commenters supporting a shorter lead time included some seat 
suppliers and a number of consumer groups. IMMI said it believes that 
the lead time could be reduced to 2 years because the technology to 
comply with the proposed requirements has been commercially available 
for several years. American Seating supported reducing the lead time to 
2 years, suggesting that 3 major motorcoach manufacturers can now 
supply vehicles in the U.S. that meet the NPRM's proposed requirements.
    Many consumer groups supported a shorter lead time. The American 
Association of Classified School Employees (AACSE) commented that most 
motorcoaches today are already built with seat belt anchorages at all 
seating positions. The National Association of Bus Crash Families/West 
Brook Bus Crash Families suggested an 18-month lead time, stating that 
manufacturers are already aware of the changes needed to comply with 
the proposed lap/shoulder belt rule. Advocates also supported an 18-
month lead time, suggesting that only those manufacturers that have not 
previously produced motorcoaches with seat belt anchorages or 
integrated anchorages should need more than 18 months to implement the 
requirements of the final rule. The National Association of Bus Crash 
Families wanted NHTSA to implement a lead time of not longer than 1 
year. Four private individuals supported a lead time shorter than 3 
years.

Agency Response

    Section 32703(e) of the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act states that 
any regulation prescribed in accordance with subsection (a) (which is 
the provision regarding safety belts) shall, with regard to new 
motorcoaches, ``apply to all motorcoaches manufactured more than 3 
years after the date on which the regulation is published as a final 
rule.''
    Consistent with the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act and the 
effective date proposed in the NPRM, this final rule specifies a 3-year 
lead time for manufacturers of new buses to meet the lap/shoulder belt 
requirements. In our judgment, we believe that 3 years is appropriate 
to provide sufficient time to bus manufacturers to design and test 
their anchorage systems to the requirements of this final rule. 
Although some manufacturers are already offering seat systems that 
comply with FMVSS No. 210, other manufacturers have not incorporated 
seats with lap/shoulder belts or have incorporated seats with lap/
shoulder belts that meet a lesser strength requirement. For the latter 
manufacturers, some may require strengthening or redesign of motorcoach 
floor and side wall seat anchorage systems to meet the adopted 
requirements, in addition to purchasing or designing seats that can 
withstand the required loads. The 3-year lead time will give these 
manufacturers time to plan the implementation of the new standard more 
efficiently and effectively than a shorter lead time. (Under 49 CFR 
571.8(b), manufacturers of vehicles built in two or more stages (multi-
stage manufacturers) are provided an additional year of lead time for 
manufacturer certification of compliance. This additional year provides 
multi-stage manufacturers, many of which are small businesses, added 
flexibility and time to make the necessary assessments to acquire a 
basis for certifying their vehicles' compliance.)
    A 3-year lead time is important for reducing the chances of 
manufacturers making mistakes that could lead to future non-
compliances. Corrective action for potential non-compliances is likely 
to be much more costly than designing and manufacturing the buses 
correctly to start.
    An important part of this efficient implementation is related to 
vehicle weight. As was discussed earlier, commenters expressed concern 
over possible weight increases if seats had to meet FMVSS No. 210. As 
we explained earlier in response to those comments, we do not believe 
that seats with anchorages that meet FMVSS No. 210 need to be much 
heavier or bulkier than current seats. Indeed, seats now offered by 
Australian seat suppliers that meet ADR 68 weigh less than the original 
seats. Australian government officials have noted that early prototype 
seats did get heavier in response to ADR 68, as manufacturers simply 
beefed up (strengthened) existing seats with steel bracing. However, 
when seat designers decided to redesign seats from scratch, the new 
designs were ``more than twice as strong, weighed less and were not 
significantly more expensive (excluding the cost of seat belts) to 
produce than the original product.'' \151\ Allowing a 3-year lead time 
will give sufficient time to seat and vehicle designers, who wish to do 
so, to develop modern seat designs that meet FMVSS No. 210 and that 
provide energy-absorption features, while minimizing any weight 
increase.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \151\ Griffiths et al., ``Three Point Seat Belts On Coaches--The 
First Decade In Australia,'' supra.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Seat suppliers American Seating and IMMI recommended that the lead 
time

[[Page 70464]]

be shortened to 2 years. We note that these seat manufacturers are 
affiliated with each other and offer the same Premier[supreg] branded 
seat, which is advertised as capable of meeting FMVSS No. 210 
requirements, in addition to other FMVSSs. Thus, their suggestion may 
be more representative of time necessary for vehicle manufacturers to 
modify the vehicle structure to accept a seat such as theirs. However, 
as stated above, we believe the 3 years of lead time will offer both 
seat and vehicle manufacturers the opportunity to implement the 
standard more efficiently, particular in regard to weight.
    Various consumer advocates and commenters from the general public 
requested an even shorter lead time than 2 years. Many of the comments 
were based on the current availability of bus seats with seat belts. 
Some argued that the 3-year lead time will result in unnecessary 
fatalities. NHTSA is keenly aware of the potential loss of life 
inherent in any single crash of the covered buses, which is why the 
agency has made this and other rulemaking actions initiated pursuant to 
the ``NHTSA's Approach to Motorcoach Safety'' plan a high priority. 
Although we believe that many bus manufacturers will comply with this 
final rule before the 3-year deadline, it is important to give other 
manufacturers the time to do the job correctly. In addition, to the 
extent that many operators of the affected buses now offer vehicles 
with lap/shoulder seat belts, we believe that early compliance with the 
final rule will result in an increasing availability of buses with lap/
shoulder seat belts before the 3-year date.
    Advocates suggested in its comments that the final rule could 
provide a staggered compliance schedule, with the agency identifying 
motorcoaches that are not currently compliant with the final rule and 
allowing 3 years to certify compliance, while the other manufacturers 
would only get 18 months to certify. We believe such an approach is not 
viable. The agency's limited compliance testing budget should not be 
used simply to identify vehicles that either get 18 months to certify 
(if found to be compliant, which in and of itself would be difficult to 
verify short of testing a vehicle) or 3 years to certify (if found to 
not comply) to the new standard. This would be an inefficient use of 
agency resources with little, if any, potential safety benefit.

XVIII. On Retrofitting Used Buses

    In the NPRM, we asked for comments on the issue of retrofitting 
existing (used) buses with seat belts at passenger seating positions. 
We did not include a retrofit proposal as part of the NPRM, but we 
wanted to know more about the technical and economic feasibility of a 
retrofit requirement. Our understanding at the time of the NPRM was 
that significant strengthening of the motorcoach structure would be 
needed to accommodate the additional loading from the seat belts, 
particularly for the older buses. It was not apparent that establishing 
requirements similar to or based on the proposed requirements would be 
cost effective, or feasible from an engineering perspective.
    Commenters were sharply divided in their opinion of the merits of a 
retrofit requirement. In general, motorcoach manufacturers and 
operators strongly opposed a retrofit requirement as being economically 
and technically untenable. Seat suppliers did not support a retrofit 
requirement. Consumer advocates and individual members of the public 
strongly supported a retrofit requirement.
    The following points were made by various commenters.

On the Merits of Retrofitting Buses

     UMA, which represents motorcoach owners/operators and 
industry suppliers, stated that the motorcoach industry is ``capital 
intensive, competitive and generally a marginally profitable business, 
at best.'' UMA stated that any retrofit requirement or retrofit 
standard would likely divert financial resources from other safety-
related efforts, such as training and maintenance. It stated that these 
efforts are at the core of the current motorcoach industry safety 
record, and any diversion of resources could have the undesirable 
effect of increasing, rather than decreasing, motorcoach accidents and 
the related injuries and fatalities.
     UMA commented that a retrofit requirement would either 
drive companies out of business or drive up costs of what the commenter 
called an already safe mode of transportation, adversely affecting 
customers who require economical transportation, such as students and 
the elderly.
     ABA, representing bus operators, suppliers, and 
manufacturers, did not support a retrofit requirement for seat belts on 
motorcoaches. ABA did not believe that a retrofit requirement is 
economically or technically feasible for the reasons stated in the 
NPRM. ABA believed that owners of existing vehicles should not be 
forced into renewed construction to meet performance requirements that 
differ from those to which they were originally built.
     ABA and Coach USA stated that NHTSA does not have the 
statutory authority to impose retroactive, vehicle-based performance 
standards. The commenters suggested that the agency's authority only 
extended to requiring the retrofit of ``equipment'' items, such as 
retro-reflective tape and rear impact (underride) guards, and does not 
extend to standards requiring substantial vehicle restructuring and a 
case-by-case determination with regard to the actions necessary to 
reach compliance.
     Coach USA believed that a retrofit requirement could push 
motorcoaches over the statutory weight limits for operation on 
highways.
     Twenty-nine operators submitted identical letters 
commenting that any retrofit requirement would either put their company 
out of business or severely restrict their operations. Operators 
commented that they do not have the technical capacity to test vehicles 
to ensure that they would comply with any new performance requirements 
and have no way to ensure or certify that their vehicles, once equipped 
with seat belts, would meet the government standards.
     Peter Pan commented that retrofitting motorcoaches that 
are less than 5 years old is expensive and unnecessary and there is no 
way for the operator to certify that retrofitted vehicles would meet 
the government standard. It stated that, if the agency decides to 
require retrofits, the retrofit requirement should be implemented in a 
similar manner as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), where 
operators were given 12 years (the average fleet turnover rate) to 
equip their fleet with lifts.
     Greyhound also suggested the approach of DOT setting a 
date by which all motorcoaches on the road must have lap/shoulder 
belts, e.g., a date representing the average over-the-road bus fleet 
turnover rate, which the commenter said was 12 years.
     Star Shuttle and Charter commented that a retrofit 
requirement would put them out of business and reduce the value of 
their existing fleet. It requested that the agency establish a multi-
year grant program, whereby operators could obtain funding for 
retrofitting or acquisition of new seat belt-equipped coaches.
     Monterey-Salinas Transit commented that there could be 
service reductions with retrofitting based on cost to retrofit and out-
of-service time needed to retrofit the motorcoach.
     Plymouth & Brockton expressed concern that in many cases 
the cost to retrofit buses would exceed the resale value of the buses 
involved. It urged NHTSA to require seat belts in new buses, but let 
the natural process of

[[Page 70465]]

vehicle attrition allow companies to fully comply with the regulation 
over time.
     Prestige Bus Charters commented that while it supported 
requirements for new coaches to be equipped with seat belts, it would 
be very difficult to absorb the cost to retrofit its buses.
     Seat belt supplier IMMI commented that NHTSA should not 
require retrofit of lap/shoulder belts, but rather establish technical/
performance standards/requirements when a retrofit is determined to be 
necessary or desirable to fulfill a market-driven need. It added that 
retrofitted motorcoaches should be made capable of meeting the same 
performance standards as newly manufactured motorcoaches. IMMI 
concurred with the many practical issues identified by the agency in 
the NPRM and that each individual bus would need to be evaluated before 
a retrofit could be accomplished adequately.
     The National Association of Bus Crash Families/West Brook 
Bus Crash Families supported a mandatory retrofitting requirement. It 
commented that without one it could take up to 20 years or more before 
all motorcoach models are equipped with lap/shoulder seat belts. While 
acknowledging that for older motorcoaches, design and cost burdens may 
necessitate the installation of lap belts rather than lap/shoulder 
belts, the group said it would be ``unfair and unwise'' to have a dual 
system of motorcoach transportation available to the public--one 
offering the protection of seat belts and the other not doing so.

On the Merits of Retrofitting Lap Belts Instead of Lap/Shoulder Belts

     IMMI was opposed to an approach that would specify used 
motorcoaches to be retrofitted with lap only seat belts, rather than 
lap/shoulder belts, given the agency's research findings that 
demonstrate that lap/shoulder belts provide the best protection.
     Greyhound did not support a lap belt only retrofit 
specification, referring also to poor performance of lap belt only 
systems in NHTSA testing.
     National Association of Bus Crash Families/West Brook Bus 
Crash Families indicated that motorcoaches manufactured before 2000 
that are not structurally robust enough for lap/shoulder retrofitting 
could be outfitted with just lap belts.

On the Merits of Retrofitting Only a Portion of the Fleet

     Greyhound said that limiting retrofitting to buses 
manufactured within 5 years of the effective date might avoid unduly 
impacting smaller operators with older buses that may not be able to 
sustain the loads of seats with lap/shoulder belts.
     ABA suggested the idea of a voluntary retrofit program for 
vehicles that were originally built to be seat belt-ready to the 
European standards (or to the FMVSS), but that were sold without seat 
belts.
     IMMI said that later model buses could be retrofitted with 
lap/shoulder belts within 3 years of the implementation date of the 
final rule.
     Advocates supported a retrofit provision for motorcoaches 
manufactured more than 5 years prior to the implementation date. It 
said NHTSA should work with motorcoach carriers, and especially 
manufacturers, to determine which existing vehicles require retrofit 
before evaluating whether it is feasible to retrofit such vehicles with 
lap/shoulder belts. It believed that some makes of motorcoaches could 
be retrofitted with seat belts at a reasonable cost, or at least at the 
lower end of the cost range cited in the NPRM.
     SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A and Safe Ride News Publications would 
like a mandatory retrofit program for motorcoaches less than10 years 
old.
     National Association of Bus Crash Families/West Brook Bus 
Crash Families urged NHTSA to require the retrofitting of all existing 
buses with lap/shoulder belts not more than 3 years after January 1, 
2011. It said it would support an interim rule allowing buses 
manufactured before 2000 that do not meet the structural requirements 
for lap/shoulder belts to have lap belts only.

Regarding Structural Issues

     Coach USA commented that retrofitting may not be possible 
in some older vehicles. The structure of older vehicles may not be able 
to support the necessary modifications and, without standards to ensure 
that the seats and the structure of the motorcoach can withstand the 
forces imposed in a crash, could result in additional safety risks.
     UMA believed that the structural modifications needed for 
each vehicle will depend on factors such as the original manufacturer 
and age of the vehicle. Arrow Coach Lines stated that retrofitting used 
motorcoaches with seat belts would be difficult since buses in the 
fleet will have different levels of deterioration.
     Some bus manufacturers and operators supported a voluntary 
retrofit program. Some suggested that NHTSA should establish 
retrofitting guidelines or provide financial support for operators to 
voluntarily retrofit their buses.
     ABA believed that retrofitting used motorcoaches with seat 
belts and ensuring that, as installed, the structural integrity of the 
vehicle will be sufficient to withstand specified forces or loads will 
require detailed knowledge of the original vehicle design, as well as 
analysis of the vehicle's in-use condition and technical expertise on 
how to upgrade the vehicle structure. Regarding manufacturer-provided 
retrofit kits, ABA stated that because the manufacturer does not know 
the use, maintenance or wear history of the vehicle, the manufacturer 
would not be able to assure that the bus will be capable of meeting a 
particular performance requirement once a belt retrofit kit is applied.

Regarding the Cost of Retrofitting

     Setra estimated that the cost of a retrofit requirement 
for its buses would be on the order of $85,000 per bus. It specified 
that retrofitting an existing motorcoach would involve: removing 
existing seats; removing the flooring; removing the engine in order to 
gain access to the bus structure at the rear; welding in a new frame 
structure to accommodate FMVSS No. 210 seat belt requirements; 
reinstalling the engine, reinstalling removed parts, installing 
(compliant) seats; and verifying compliance critical elements to meet 
the FMVSSs.
     Coach USA described NHTSA's estimate of $40,000 per 
vehicle as ``a significant underestimate.'' Coach USA estimated that 
for a single deck motorcoach, the cost will be approximately $35,000 
per motorcoach to modify the motorcoach structure to meet FMVSS No. 210 
seat anchorage requirements, and another $20,000 per motorcoach to 
replace the seats (approximately $18,000 to purchase the seats and 
$2,000 to install them).
     Some commenters said that the estimated costs should also 
include the cost to the company of taking the bus out of service while 
the vehicle is undergoing retrofitting. Coach USA estimated that a 
motorcoach will need to be taken out of service for 30 to 45 days to 
perform the necessary modifications, a cost that Coach USA estimates to 
be approximately $20,000 per motorcoach.
     UMA commented that the cost to retrofit a vehicle could 
easily range between $30,000 and $60,000. It noted that about 90 
percent of motorcoach companies are small businesses that typically can 
maintain only small capital reserves to cover such exigencies as 
highway breakdowns or business income gaps.

[[Page 70466]]

     UMA stated that consumer demand for late model equipment 
on motorcoaches creates a significant decline in asset value after just 
a few years use. A retrofit requirement ``could likely quell the demand 
for new motorcoaches if the possibility exists for burdensome 
recapitalization of existing equipment looms.''
     UMA stated that most motorcoaches in the U.S. are sold 
direct, or by similar means, by the manufacturers of motorcoaches, and 
that subsequently, existing motorcoaches are routinely acquired by the 
manufacturers through trades. The commenter stated that it is likely 
the manufacturers will evaluate traded motorcoaches, particularly later 
models, for retrofit eligibility and possible retrofit, to increase the 
value and likelihood of a sale. UMA stated: ``The absence of a retrofit 
requirement and/or retrofit standard will likely spur the largest 
number of compliant seatbelt [sic] equipped in the shortest amount of 
time.''

Other Issues

     UMA noted that a retrofit requirement could create a 
cottage industry of unqualified seat belt installers, particularly for 
motorcoaches not used for public transportation and owned by 
institutions such as colleges, churches, and the like.
     ABA noted that the vast majority of motorcoach operators 
(approximately 80 percent) are small businesses with less than 10 
employees operating fewer than 7 motorcoaches. ABA stated that the only 
way to ensure consistency in the evaluation and upgrading of in-use 
motorcoaches to a retroactive manufacturing standard is to establish 
Federal specifications and a Federal inspection and evaluation program. 
ABA stated that without Federal grants for motorcoach operators to 
perform such retrofits, many operators would not be able to finance 
such vehicle upgrades.
Agency Response
    For a number of reasons, NHTSA and FMCSA have decided not to issue 
a rule on retrofitting seat belt systems on buses subsequent to initial 
manufacture. Information from bus manufacturers indicates that 
establishing requirements to equip buses with seat belts in all 
passenger seating positions subsequent to initial manufacture would not 
be cost effective or reasonably feasible from an engineering 
perspective. Significant strengthening of the bus structure would be 
needed, if achievable, to accommodate the additional seat belt loading, 
particularly for those buses that have been in service longer. In some 
buses, retrofitting with seat belts might not be structurally possible.
    In the FRIA, NHTSA presents an analysis of the cost effectiveness 
of a retrofit requirement, based on the age of the bus to be 
retrofitted. Two assumptions about costs are included in the analysis. 
The low cost estimate assumes that the most recent buses can be 
retrofitted with new seats with lap/shoulder belts and no new 
structure. Thus, there is little weight gain and fuel costs are only 
included for the weight of the belts themselves. This is the lowest 
cost assumption resulting in an estimated installation cost of $14,659. 
As would be expected, retrofitting becomes less cost effective as a bus 
gets older, because costs remain the same in our example (but may 
actually increase in real life), but benefits decrease as there is less 
remaining life for the bus. Compared to the guideline of $6.3 million 
per life saved, even with the lowest cost estimate for a retrofit 
($14,659/bus and no fuel cost), seat belt usage has to be 39 to 53 
percent for a one-year-old bus to break even and it increases by about 
4 percentage points per year to get to 54 to 64 percent by age five. 
Under a higher installation cost assumption ($40,000, with fuel costs 
only for the weight of the belts and not for added structure), the 
breakeven point in belt usage is 76 to 81 percent for a one-year-old 
bus and quickly becomes higher than seat belt usage in light vehicles. 
Retrofitting a five year-old or newer buses would result in a breakeven 
point in belt usage from 82 percent to greater than 83 percent, i.e., 
most of the range exceeds the belt usage rate for passenger vehicles. 
So, if one were to estimate the costs of retrofit at $40,000 per bus, 
retrofit is not a cost effective option for buses one to five-years-
old. If one were to estimate the costs of retrofit at the lowest 
possible price, seat belt use would need to exceed 54 to 64 percent to 
make it worthwhile to retrofit a five-year-old bus. Many commenters 
emphasized that the cost of retrofitting will impact many small 
businesses that do not have large profit margins. We agree with the 
point that public policymakers need to consider that retrofitting costs 
could divert financial resources from other safety-related efforts, 
such as driver training and bus maintenance.\152\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \152\ Even with lap belts, significant strengthening of the 
motorcoach structure may be needed in order to accommodate the 
additional seat belt loading, particularly for those buses that have 
been in service longer. While the distribution of the loading may be 
different, lap belts will still need to restrain the same amount of 
loading as lap/shoulder belts.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    We understand that many consumer groups and individuals want to 
accelerate the installation of seat belts in the entire motorcoach 
fleet by requiring retrofitting. However, comments from those in favor 
of retrofitting did not present information offsetting the economic and 
technical challenges of a retrofit requirement.
    We did not obtain helpful information from the comments as to how 
they foresaw the enforcement of a retrofit program. It is one thing to 
visually inspect the buses to see if there are seat belts at passenger 
seating positions, it is another to assess the seat belt system to see 
if the seat belts and anchorages would hold in a crash and withstand 
the loading from the passengers. A seat belt requirement that does not 
have a way to assess whether belt systems will adequately restrain 
passengers is of diminished value.
    Given the low benefits of a retrofit requirement and high costs 
associated with it, and given the agencies' limited resources, we have 
decided against developing and implementing a retrofit program. We 
believe that Departmental and industry resources should be applied to 
achieve more benefits in other program areas.
    A few commenters expressed the view that NHTSA lacks the authority 
to require retrofitting of seat belts. A discussion of this issue does 
not need to be undertaken at this time since the agencies are not 
pursuing a retrofit program for seat belts, but it is a matter on which 
we disagree with the commenters, and a topic for discussion at the 
appropriate time. We note here that section 32703(e)(2) of the 
Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act, ``Retrofit Assessment for Existing 
Motorcoaches,'' states that ``The Secretary may assess the feasibility, 
benefits, and costs with respect to the application of any requirement 
established under subsection (a) or (b)(2) to motorcoaches manufactured 
before the date on which the requirement applies to new motorcoaches 
under paragraph (1).'' Subsection (a) of section 32703 is the provision 
in the Act that directs the establishment of this final rule for safety 
belts on motorcoaches.
    Regarding a retrofit requirement that would apply only to a subset 
of used buses, such as more recently-manufactured buses, there are 
still many challenges with a retrofit requirement for the subset of 
vehicles. Environmental factors and how the buses were used would 
affect the ability of the bus to support the belt loads. NHTSA does not 
have the resources to assist in the development of a practical program 
that would assess the performance of the retrofitted seat belts.

[[Page 70467]]

None of the respondents provided data that would guide the agency in 
addressing this issue, even for newer buses.

XIX. Regulatory Alternatives

    NHTSA examined the benefits and costs of the adopted amendments, 
seeking to adopt only those amendments that contribute to improved 
safety, and mindful of the principles for regulatory decision-making 
set forth in Executive Orders 12866, ``Regulatory Planning and 
Review,'' and 13563, ``Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review.'' 
NHTSA has analyzed the merits of requiring lap belts for passenger 
seating positions as an alternative to lap/shoulder belts for those 
seating positions, knowing, however, that the Motorcoach Enhanced 
Safety Act requires lap/shoulder belts on over-the-road buses. NHTSA 
also considered ECE R.14 anchorage strength requirements as an 
alternative to FMVSS No. 210 requirements. These alternatives are 
addressed below.

The Alternative of Lap Belts

    The agency examined the alternative of a lap belt only requirement 
(as an alternative to lap/shoulder belts) for passenger seats in buses. 
(We note that the alternative of lap belts is not available under the 
Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act requirement for lap/shoulder belts on 
over-the-road buses.) We determined that the lap belt alternative was 
not a reasonable alternative. Lap belts, while effective against 
ejection, would provide only a portion of the benefits of passenger 
frontal crash protection as lap/shoulder belts. Further, test data also 
leads NHTSA to believe that certain types of injuries would be far more 
severe if passenger seats only were equipped with lap belts, rather 
than lap/shoulder belts. In addition, data indicate that motorists are 
more inclined to use lap/shoulder belts than lap-only belts. These 
points are discussed below.
    Real world data on light vehicles has led the agency to require 
lap/shoulder belts rather than lap belts in as many seating positions 
in light vehicles as practical. Both light vehicle data and sled 
testing with motorcoach seats show that lap belts are not as effective 
as lap/shoulder belts in reducing injuries and fatalities, particularly 
in frontal impacts. Our analysis in passenger cars of the effectiveness 
of lap belts in reducing fatalities in frontal impacts was zero, while 
it was 29 percent for lap/shoulder belts.
    Testing done in NHTSA's motorcoach test program found that lap/
shoulder belts in forward-facing seats prevented elevated head and neck 
injury values and provided enhanced occupant protection compared to lap 
belts. In the VRTC full-scale motorcoach crash, the lap/shoulder-belted 
dummies exhibited the lowest injury measures and improved kinematics, 
with low head and neck injury measures and little movement outside the 
seating, compared to the lap-belted dummies and unbelted dummies.
    In the VRTC sled tests of lap/shoulder-belted dummies--
     Average HIC and Nij values were low for all dummy sizes 
and below those seen in unbelted and lap-belted sled tests. This was 
consistent with the lap/shoulder belt results from the full scale crash 
test.
     Lap/shoulder belts retained the dummies in their seating 
positions and were able to mitigate head contact with the seat in 
front.
     When lap/shoulder-belted dummies were subject to loading 
(of their seats) by an aft unbelted dummy, there was additional forward 
excursion of the lap/shoulder-belted dummies, but the resulting average 
head injury measures were still relatively low in most cases, even with 
head contact with the seat in front in some cases.
    In the FRIA (see Table V-6 of the FRIA) accompanying this final 
rule, we highlight the average injury measurements from two sled tests 
conducted with lap-belted 5th percentile adult female and 50th 
percentile adult male dummies. Two crash pulses were utilized in these 
sled tests, the VRTC pulse and the EU pulse. Both tests were conducted 
with no rear occupants. Table V-6 of the FRIA shows the average dummy 
response in the lap belted sled tests. In every instance, the dummies 
exceeded the head and neck IARVs when the dummies were lap belted.
    In contrast to the lap/shoulder-belted dummies, the sled test 
results for lap only dummies showed--
     HIC and Nij measures exceeded the IARVs for virtually all 
the dummies tested (there was a 50th percentile male dummy which 
measured a HIC of 696 (99 percent of the IARV limit)).
     The poor performance of the lap belt restraint in the sled 
tests was consistent with the lap belt results from the full scale 
motorcoach crash test.
    In the FRIA (see Figure V-17 of the FRIA), we compare the average 
HIC15 and Nij values for the 5th percentile adult female and 
50th percentile adult male dummy sizes in the sled testing program, as 
a means to compare the relative performance of each restraint strategy 
(unbelted, lap belts, and lap/shoulder belts). Figure V-17 of the FRIA 
shows that the lowest average HIC and Nij values were associated with 
the lap/shoulder belt restraint for both dummy sizes. The lower 
HIC15 and Nij values for the lap/shoulder restraint 
condition are consistent with the dummy kinematics, which indicated 
that the lap/shoulder belt restraint limited head contact with the 
forward seat back, particularly for the 5th percentile adult female 
dummies. In contrast, most of the average injury measures for the lap 
belt restraint condition were at or above the IARVs. In the sled tests, 
lap belts resulted in more injuries than being unrestrained, while lap/
shoulder belts were the most effective restraint strategy. We also note 
that, while in the test program we did not measure risk of abdominal 
injuries, abdominal injuries have been shown to be a problem with lap 
belts.\153\ All this information overwhelmingly shows that lap/shoulder 
belts would provide more safety benefits to occupants on the affected 
buses than lap-only belts.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \153\ Morgan, June 1999, ``Effectiveness of Lap/Shoulder Belts 
in the Back Outboard Seating Positions,'' Washington, DC, National 
Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    There is also a difference between the restraint systems in terms 
of estimated belt use rates. In the FRIA, NHTSA estimates that the 
breakeven point for lap belt use is 2-3 percent, and for lap/shoulder 
belt use the breakeven point is 4-5 percent (a difference of 2 
percentage points). The agency has found that lap/shoulder belt usage 
is 10 percentage points higher than lap belt usage in the rear seat of 
passenger cars. Assuming that this relationship would hold for the 
covered buses, the information indicates that lap/shoulder belts would 
also be more cost effective than lap belts.

Alternative Anchorage Strength Requirements

    In an earlier section of this preamble, NHTSA discussed its 
decision that the lap/shoulder belt anchorages (and the seat structure 
itself) must meet FMVSS No. 210 requirements. We sought comment on the 
alternative of applying the requirements of ECE R.14 and ECE R.80 
rather than FMVSS No. 210.
    As the agency does in all its FMVSS rulemaking, in developing this 
final rule NHTSA considered international standards for harmonization 
purposes. The agency thus reviewed regulations issued by Australia and 
Japan. In Australia, buses with 17 or more seats and with GVWRs greater 
than or equal to 3,500 kg (7,716 lb) must comply with ADR 68 (Occupant 
Protection in Buses). The ADR 68 anchorage test specifies

[[Page 70468]]

simultaneous application of loading from the belted occupant, the 
unbelted occupant in the rear (applied to the seat back), and the 
inertial seat loading from a 20 g crash pulse. We estimate that the ADR 
68 anchorage test would result in significantly greater (1.5 times 
higher) anchorage loads than those measured in our sled tests. In 
addition, the maximum deceleration in our 48 km/h (30 mph) motorcoach 
crash test was only 13 g compared to the 20 g specified for inertial 
seat loading in ADR 68. For these reasons, NHTSA decided not to further 
consider ADR 68. NHTSA decided against further consideration of Japan's 
regulation because Japan requires lap belts, and as explained above, 
the agency has concluded that lap belts are not a reasonable 
alternative.
    NHTSA has compared ECE R.14 and ECR R.80 to FMVSS No. 210 to see if 
the ECE regulations offer greater benefits than FMVSS No. 210. Our sled 
and static testing indicated that ECE R.14/ECE R.80 regulations do not 
provide the level of seat belt anchorage strength required for the 
foreseeable frontal crash scenario represented by a 48 km/h (30 mph) 
barrier impact. The static load requirements for ECE R.14 and ECE R.80 
are far below that required to generate the peak seat anchorage loads 
that NHTSA measured in its sled tests, which means a seat that 
minimally meets the ECE required static loads for M3 vehicles may 
separate from its floor anchorages in a crash, especially in a severe 
frontal crash where tri-loading of the seat occurs.
    We have also compared ECE R.14 and ECR R.80 to FMVSS No. 210 to see 
if the ECE regulations offer less costs than FMVSS No. 210. The 
information from the seat manufacturers indicate that meeting ECE R.14 
and R.80 would not necessarily result in cost or weight savings. Seat 
supplier IMMI stated that its own review determined that meeting ECE 
R.14 would result in minor material reductions compared to a seat 
meeting FMVSS No. 210, resulting in minimal savings per seat assembly. 
U.S. seat suppliers C.E. White and IMMI and possibly others already 
have established their structural concepts and production to meet FMVSS 
No. 210. For these reasons, we have decided to adopt FMVSS No. 210 and 
not the ECE standards.

XX. Overview of Costs and Benefits

    Based on FARS data 2000-2009, annually there were 20.9 fatalities 
and 7,934 injuries to occupants of covered buses. We estimate that 
installing lap/shoulder seat belts on new covered buses will save 1.7-
9.2 lives and prevent 146-858 injuries (3.46-25.17 equivalent lives), 
depending upon the usage of lap/shoulder belts in the vehicles (Table 
9).\154\ The cost of adding lap/shoulder belts will be approximately 
$2,101 per vehicle. Lifetime fuel costs due to an increased weight of 
the bus will be an additional cost of $794 to $1,077 (estimated in 
Table 10 below). Total costs are estimated to range from $6.4 to $8.6 
million for the 2,200 buses sold per year (all costs are in $2008). The 
cost per equivalent life saved is estimated to range from $0.3 million 
to $1.8 million (Table 11).

                Table 9--Estimated Benefits of Final Rule
------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Fatalities................................  1.7 to 9.2.
AIS 1 Injuries (Minor)....................  89 to 536.
AIS 2-5 (Moderate to Severe)..............  57 to 322.
Total Non-fatal Injuries..................  146 to 858.
------------------------------------------------------------------------


                 Table 10--Estimated Costs of Final Rule
                               [in $2008]
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                            Per average     Total fleet
                                              vehicle       ($Millions)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Bus Driver..............................           $7.54           $0.02
Bus Passenger...........................        2,094               4.6
Fuel Costs @ 3%.........................        1,077               2.4
Fuel Costs @ 7%.........................          794               1.7
New Vehicle and Fuel Costs
@ 3%....................................        3,178               7.0
@ 7%....................................        2,895               6.4
------------------------------------------------------------------------


                Table 11--Costs Per Equivalent Life Saved
------------------------------------------------------------------------
         Cost per equivalent life saved           3% to 7% discount rate
------------------------------------------------------------------------
50% Belt use for drivers and 15% Belt usage for   $1.5 to $1.8 mill.
 passengers.
83% Belt usage..................................  $0.3 to $0.3 mill.
Breakeven point in passenger belt usage.........  4 to 5%.
------------------------------------------------------------------------


                                     Table 12--Annualized Costs and Benefits
                                         [In millions of $2008 dollars]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                  Annualized      Annualized
                                                     costs         benefits               Net benefits
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
3% Discount Rate..............................            $7.0     $28.5-158.6  $21.5 to 151.6.
7% Discount Rate..............................             6.4      21.8-121.1  15.4 to 114.7.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


[[Page 70469]]

    The cost of installing lap/shoulder belts on new buses is estimated 
as follows. For the driver, the difference in costs between a lap belt 
only and a lap/shoulder belt at the driver seating position is 
approximately $18.86.\155\ This cost includes the difference in cost 
between a lap and lap/shoulder belt. About 60 percent of the driver 
positions currently have lap/shoulder belts, thus adding a shoulder 
belt to the driver seat for 40 percent of the large buses will add an 
average of $7.54 per bus. For the passenger seats, the incremental cost 
of adding lap/shoulder belts and to change the seat anchorages for a 
two passenger seat is $78.14 ($39.07 per seating position). On a 54-
passenger bus, the cost for the passenger seats is $2,109.78 ($39.07 x 
54). On a 45-passenger bus, the incremental cost of adding lap/shoulder 
belts and to change the seat anchorages $1,758.15 ($39.07 x 45). A 
sales weighted average of those buses results in the estimate of $2,094 
per average covered bus. The agency has also estimated increased costs 
in fuel usage. The increased fuel costs depend on added weight 
(estimated to be 73 kg (161 lb) \156\) and the discount rate used. 
NHTSA estimates the increased costs in fuel usage for added weight and 
discounts the additional fuel used over the lifetime of the bus using a 
3 percent and 7 percent discount rate. See the FRIA for more details.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \154\ The FRIA assumes that the seat belt use rate on the 
affected buses will be between 15 percent and the percent use in 
passenger vehicles, which was 83 percent in 2008. These annual 
benefits would accrue when all affected buses in the fleet have lap/
shoulder belts.
    \155\ ``Cost and Weight Added by the Federal Motor Vehicle 
Safety Standards for Model Years 1968-2001 in Passenger Cars and 
Light Trucks,'' December 2004, DOT HS 809 834, Pages 81 and 88.
    \156\ See FRIA. This estimate is based on results from a NHTSA 
contractor conducting cost/weight teardown studies of affected bus 
seats. The weight added by lap/shoulder belts was 2.70 kg (5.96 lb) 
per 2-person seat. This is the weight only of the seat belt assembly 
itself and does not include changing the design of the seat, 
reinforcing the floor, walls or other areas of the bus. The final 
cost and weight results from the study are in the docket for the 
NPRM.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

XXI. Rulemaking Analyses and Notices

Executive Order 12866, Executive Order 13563, and DOT Regulatory 
Policies and Procedures

    The agency has considered the impact of this rulemaking action 
under Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 and the Department of 
Transportation's regulatory policies and procedures (44 FR 11034; 
February 26, 1979) and determined that it is economically 
``significant'' under those documents. This final rule also satisfies a 
Congressional mandate set forth in the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act 
of 2012, and thus relates to a matter of substantial Congressional and 
public interest. Accordingly, the action was reviewed under the 
Executive Order 12866. NHTSA has prepared a FRIA for this final 
rule.\157\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \157\ NHTSA's FRIA is available in the docket for this final 
rule and may be obtained by downloading it or by contacting Docket 
Management at the address or telephone number provided at the 
beginning of this document.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    We estimate that installing lap/shoulder belts on new covered buses 
will save approximately 1.7 to 9.2 lives and prevent 146 to 858 
injuries per year, depending on the usage of lap/shoulder belts in the 
buses. We estimate that total cost of adding lap/shoulder belts, 
changing the anchorages and reinforcing the floor is approximately 
$2,101. The agency has also estimated increased costs in fuel usage. 
The cost per equivalent life saved is estimated to be $0.3 million to 
$1.8 million.
    The benefits, costs, and other impacts of this rulemaking are 
summarized in the immediately preceding section of this preamble and 
discussed at length in the FRIA.

Cumulative Effect of Regulations

    Consistent with Executive Order 13563 and the Vehicle Safety Act, 
we have considered the cumulative effects of the new regulations 
stemming from NHTSA's 2007 ``NHTSA's Approach to Motorcoach Safety'' 
plan and DOT's 2009 Motorcoach Safety Action Plan, and have taken steps 
to identify opportunities to harmonize and streamline those 
regulations. By coordinating the timing and content of the rulemakings, 
our goal is to expeditiously maximize the net benefits of the 
regulations (by either increasing benefits or reducing costs or a 
combination of the two) while simplifying requirements on the public 
and ensuring that the requirements are justified. We seek to ensure 
that this coordination will also simplify the implementation of 
multiple requirements on a single industry.
    NHTSA's Motorcoach Safety Action Plan identified four priority 
areas--passenger ejection, rollover structural integrity, emergency 
egress, and fire safety. There have been other initiatives on large bus 
performance, such as electronic stability control (ESC) systems \158\--
an action included in the DOT plan--and an initiative to update the 
large bus tire standard.\159\ In deciding how best to initiate and 
coordinate rulemaking in these areas, NHTSA examined various factors 
including the benefits that would be achieved by the rulemakings, the 
anticipated vehicle designs and countermeasures needed to comply with 
the regulations, and the extent to which the timing and content of the 
rulemakings could be coordinated to lessen the need for multiple 
redesign and to lower overall costs. After this examination, we decided 
on a course of action that prioritized the goal of reducing passenger 
ejection and increasing frontal impact protection because many benefits 
could be achieved expeditiously with countermeasures that were readily 
available (using bus seats with integral lap/shoulder seat belts, which 
are already available from seat suppliers) and whose installation would 
not significantly impact other vehicle designs. Similarly, we have also 
determined that an ESC rulemaking would present relatively few 
synchronization issues with other rules, since the vehicles at issue 
already have the foundation braking systems needed for the stability 
control technology, and the additional equipment to realize ESC are 
sensors that are already available and that can be installed without 
significant impact on other vehicle systems. Further, we estimate that 
80 percent of the affected buses already have ESC systems. We realize 
that a rollover structural integrity rulemaking, or an emergency egress 
rulemaking, could involve more redesign of vehicle structure than rules 
involving systems such as seat belts, ESC, or tires.\160\ Our decision-
making in these and all the rulemakings outlined in the ``NHTSA's 
Approach to Motorcoach Safety'' plan, DOT's Motorcoach Safety Action 
Plan, and the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Plan will be cognizant of the 
timing and content of the actions so as to simplify requirements 
applicable to the public and private sectors, ensure that requirements 
are justified, and increase the net benefits of the resulting safety 
standards.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \158\ 77 FR 30766, May 23, 2012.
    \159\ 75 FR 60037; September 29, 2010.
    \160\ The initiative on fire safety is in a research phase. 
Rulemaking resulting from the research will not occur in the near 
term.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Section 32706 of the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act directs the 
Secretary to consider, if DOT undertakes separate rulemaking 
proceedings, whether each added aspect of rulemaking may contribute to 
addressing the safety need determined to require rulemaking and the 
benefits obtained through this safety belt rulemaking, and to avoid 
duplicative benefits, costs, and countermeasures. NHTSA has and will 
consider these

[[Page 70470]]

factors so as to avoid duplicative benefits, costs, and 
countermeasures.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    Pursuant to the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq., 
as amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act 
(SBREFA) of 1996), whenever an agency is required to publish a notice 
of rulemaking for any proposed or final rule, it must prepare and make 
available for public comment a regulatory flexibility analysis that 
describes the effect of the rule on small entities (i.e., small 
businesses, small organizations, and small governmental jurisdictions). 
The Small Business Administration's regulations at 13 CFR Part 121 
define a small business, in part, as a business entity ``which operates 
primarily within the United States.'' (13 CFR 121.105(a)). No 
regulatory flexibility analysis is required if the head of an agency 
certifies that the rule will not have a significant economic impact on 
a substantial number of small entities. The SBREFA amended the 
Regulatory Flexibility Act to require Federal agencies to provide a 
statement of the factual basis for certifying that a rule will not have 
a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities.
    NHTSA has considered the effects of this rulemaking action under 
the Regulatory Flexibility Act. According to 13 CFR 121.201, the Small 
Business Administration's size standards regulations used to define 
small business concerns, manufacturers affected today would fall under 
North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) No. 336111, 
Automobile Manufacturing, which has a size standard of 1,000 employees 
or fewer. NHTSA estimates that there are 20 manufacturers of buses 
subject to this rulemaking, and that approximately 9 of these 
manufacturers are considered small businesses (these include second-
stage manufacturers).
    For the reasons discussed below, I certify that this final rule 
will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of 
small entities. The agency estimates that the average incremental costs 
to each bus will be $2,101 per unit to meet this final rule. This 
incremental cost does not constitute a significant impact given that 
the average cost of the buses subject to this rulemaking ranges from 
$200,000 to $500,000. Further, these incremental costs, which are very 
small compared to the overall cost of the bus, can ultimately be passed 
on to the bus purchaser and/or persons purchasing tickets or chartering 
the bus's services. In addition, certifying that their buses comply 
with the safety requirements adopted today will not have a significant 
economic impact on the manufacturers. Small manufacturers are already 
certifying their bus's compliance with FMVSS No. 207's seat strength 
requirements (driver's seat), FMVSS No. 208's occupant crash protection 
requirements applying to the driver's seating position, and the FMVSS 
No. 210 seat belt anchorage strength requirements for the driver's 
seating position. The methodology that is used to certify to today's 
requirements is a relatively simple static pull test, the same or 
similar to the tests currently applying to small manufacturers to 
certify compliance with FMVSS Nos. 207, 208 and 210 for the driver's 
seating position.
    Small manufacturers have many options available to certify 
compliance, none of which will result in a significant economic impact 
on these entities. Bus manufacturers typically obtain seating systems 
from seat suppliers and install the seats on the bus body. Seat 
suppliers currently offer bus seats with lap/shoulder belts integral to 
the seats. As a result of this final rule, the bus manufacturers will 
be able to order passenger seats with lap/shoulder belts from the same 
suppliers, just as they do today. Seat suppliers (which are large 
businesses) offer technical assistance to the bus manufacturer 
regarding installation of the seats and testing to the FMVSSs.\161\ The 
small bus manufacturer can certify compliance with the requirements 
adopted today using the information and instruction provided by the 
seat supplier. (Note also that the performance requirements of today's 
final rule involve a simple static pull test.)
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \161\ See http://www.cewhite.com/testing-lab (``The entire 
testing program is FREE for our customers''), see also http://www.freedmanseating.com/fstl/) (``We Provide . . . FMVSS/CMVSS 207, 
210, and 225 Testing . . . Special Tests Performed Per Client's 
Specifications'') [Web sites last accessed February 1, 2012]. IMMI 
indicated in its comments that it also assists in the testing of 
buses using its seats.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    For small bus manufacturers that wish to perform their own testing, 
there are several options available. One option is to ``section'' the 
vehicle or otherwise obtain a body section representative of the 
vehicle, install the seat in the section as they would in the actual 
full vehicle, and test the seat assembly to the FMVSS No. 210 pull 
test. This is basically the approach that VRTC used in NHTSA's 
motorcoach seat belt research program. The bus manufacturer could base 
its certification on these tests, without testing a full vehicle. The 
manufacturer could also test a bus that is not completely new. A 
manufacturer could test seating systems installed on an old bus chassis 
or other underlying structure, and could sufficiently assess the 
ability of the seating system to meet today's requirements.
    Moreover, a small manufacturer is not required to conduct actual 
testing. It can certify compliance by using modeling and engineering 
analyses. Unlike NHTSA, manufacturers certifying compliance of their 
own vehicles have more detailed information regarding their own 
vehicles and can use reasonable engineering analyses to determine 
whether their vehicles will comply with the requirements. A small 
manufacturer is closely familiar with its vehicle design and can use 
modeling and relevant analyses on a vehicle-by-vehicle basis to 
reasonably predict whether its bus design will meet the requirements of 
today's rule.
    We also note that the product cycle of the covered buses is 
significantly longer than other vehicle types. With a longer product 
cycle, we believe that the costs of certification for manufacturers 
would be further reduced as the costs of conducting compliance testing 
and the relevant analyses could be spread over a significantly longer 
period of time.
    We note that today's rule may affect small businesses as purchasers 
of the affected buses, but this is an indirect effect. Moreover, as 
mentioned above, we anticipate that the impact on these businesses will 
not be significant because the expected price increase of the buses 
used by these businesses is ($2,101 for each bus valued between 
$200,000 and $500,000). While fuel costs for these businesses will 
increase between $794 and $1,077 (in 2008 dollars) per bus over the 
lifetime of the bus, these expected increases in costs are small in 
comparison to the cost of each vehicle. We further anticipate that 
these costs will equally affect all operators of the covered buses and 
thus small operators will be able to pass these costs onto their 
consumers.

Executive Order 13132 (Federalism)

    NHTSA has examined today's final rule pursuant to Executive Order 
13132 (64 FR 43255, August 10, 1999) and concluded that no additional 
consultation with States, local governments or their representatives is 
mandated beyond the rulemaking process. The agency has concluded that 
the rulemaking will not have sufficient federalism implications to 
warrant consultation with State and local officials or the preparation 
of a federalism summary impact statement.

[[Page 70471]]

The final rule will not have ``substantial direct effects on the 
States, on the relationship between the national government and the 
States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the 
various levels of government.''
    NHTSA rules can preempt in two ways. First, the National Traffic 
and Motor Vehicle Safety Act contains an express preemption provision: 
When a motor vehicle safety standard is in effect under this chapter, a 
State or a political subdivision of a State may prescribe or continue 
in effect a standard applicable to the same aspect of performance of a 
motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment only if the standard is 
identical to the standard prescribed under this chapter. 49 U.S.C. 
30103(b)(1). It is this statutory command by Congress that preempts any 
non-identical State legislative and administrative law addressing the 
same aspect of performance.
    The express preemption provision described above is subject to a 
savings clause under which ``[c]ompliance with a motor vehicle safety 
standard prescribed under this chapter does not exempt a person from 
liability at common law.'' 49 U.S.C. 30103(e) Pursuant to this 
provision, State common law tort causes of action against motor vehicle 
manufacturers that might otherwise be preempted by the express 
preemption provision are generally preserved. However, the Supreme 
Court has recognized the possibility, in some instances, of implied 
preemption of such State common law tort causes of action by virtue of 
NHTSA's rules, even if not expressly preempted. This second way that 
NHTSA rules can preempt is dependent upon there being an actual 
conflict between an FMVSS and the higher standard that would 
effectively be imposed on motor vehicle manufacturers if someone 
obtained a State common law tort judgment against the manufacturer, 
notwithstanding the manufacturer's compliance with the NHTSA standard. 
Because most NHTSA standards established by an FMVSS are minimum 
standards, a State common law tort cause of action that seeks to impose 
a higher standard on motor vehicle manufacturers will generally not be 
preempted. However, if and when such a conflict does exist--for 
example, when the standard at issue is both a minimum and a maximum 
standard--the State common law tort cause of action is impliedly 
preempted. See Geier v. American Honda Motor Co., 529 U.S. 861 (2000).
    Pursuant to Executive Order 13132 and 12988, NHTSA has considered 
whether this final rule could or should preempt State common law causes 
of action. The agency's ability to announce its conclusion regarding 
the preemptive effect of one of its rules reduces the likelihood that 
preemption will be an issue in any subsequent tort litigation.
    To this end, the agency has examined the nature (e.g., the language 
and structure of the regulatory text) and objectives of today's final 
rule and finds that this final rule, like many NHTSA rules, will 
prescribe only a minimum safety standard. As such, NHTSA does not 
intend that this final rule preempt state tort law that would 
effectively impose a higher standard on motor vehicle manufacturers 
than that established by today's final rule. Establishment of a higher 
standard by means of State tort law will not conflict with the minimum 
standard final here. Without any conflict, there could not be any 
implied preemption of a State common law tort cause of action.

National Environmental Policy Act

    NHTSA has analyzed this final rule for the purposes of the National 
Environmental Policy Act. The agency has determined that implementation 
of this action will not have any significant impact on the quality of 
the human environment.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    Under the procedures established by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 
1995, a person is not required to respond to a collection of 
information by a Federal agency unless the collection displays a valid 
OMB control number. This rulemaking does not establish any new 
information collection requirements.

National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act

    Under the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 
(NTTAA) (Pub. L. 104-113), ``all Federal agencies and departments shall 
use technical standards that are developed or adopted by voluntary 
consensus standards bodies, using such technical standards as a means 
to carry out policy objectives or activities determined by the agencies 
and departments.'' After carefully reviewing the available information, 
including standards from the European Union, Australia and Japan, NHTSA 
has determined that there are no voluntary consensus standards that we 
will be incorporating into this rulemaking. The reasons the agency has 
decided against adopting the international regulations regarding the 
performance of seat belt anchorages were discussed earlier in this 
preamble.

Executive Order 12988

    With respect to the review of the promulgation of a new regulation, 
section 3(b) of Executive Order 12988, ``Civil Justice Reform'' (61 FR 
4729, February 7, 1996) requires that Executive agencies make every 
reasonable effort to ensure that the regulation: (1) Clearly specifies 
the preemptive effect; (2) clearly specifies the effect on existing 
Federal law or regulation; (3) provides a clear legal standard for 
affected conduct, while promoting simplification and burden reduction; 
(4) clearly specifies the retroactive effect, if any; (5) adequately 
defines key terms; and (6) addresses other important issues affecting 
clarity and general draftsmanship under any guidelines issued by the 
Attorney General. This document is consistent with that requirement.
    Pursuant to this Order, NHTSA notes as follows.
    The issue of preemption is discussed above in connection with E.O. 
13132. NHTSA notes further that there is no requirement that 
individuals submit a petition for reconsideration or pursue other 
administrative proceeding before they may file suit in court.

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

    The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 requires agencies to 
prepare a written assessment of the costs, benefits and other effects 
of proposed or final rules that include a Federal mandate likely to 
result in the expenditure by State, local or tribal governments, in the 
aggregate, or by the private sector, of more than $100 million annually 
(adjusted for inflation with base year of 1995). This final rule will 
not result in expenditures by State, local or tribal governments, in 
the aggregate, or by the private sector in excess of $100 million 
annually.

Executive Order 13211

    Executive Order 13211 (66 FR 28355, May 18, 2001) applies to any 
rulemaking that: (1) Is determined to be economically significant as 
defined under E.O. 12866, and is likely to have a significantly adverse 
effect on the supply of, distribution of, or use of energy; or (2) that 
is designated by the Administrator of the Office of Information and 
Regulatory Affairs as a significant energy action. This rulemaking is 
not subject to E.O. 13211.

Plain Language

    Executive Order 12866 and E.O. 13563 require regulations to be 
written in a manner that is simple and easy to understand. Application 
of the principles of plain language includes

[[Page 70472]]

consideration of the following questions:
     Have we organized the material to suit the public's needs?
     Are the requirements in the rule clearly stated?
     Does the rule contain technical language or jargon that 
isn't clear?
     Would a different format (grouping and order of sections, 
use of headings, paragraphing) make the rule easier to understand?
     Would more (but shorter) sections be better?
     Could we improve clarity by adding tables, lists, or 
diagrams?
     What else could we do to make the rule easier to 
understand?
    If you have any responses to these questions, please write us.

Regulation Identifier Number (RIN)

    The Department of Transportation assigns a regulation identifier 
number (RIN) to each regulatory action listed in the Unified Agenda of 
Federal Regulations. The Regulatory Information Service Center 
publishes the Unified Agenda in April and October of each year. You may 
use the RIN contained in the heading at the beginning of this document 
to find this action in the Unified Agenda.

Privacy Act

    Anyone is able to search the electronic form of all submissions to 
any of our dockets by the name of the individual submitting the comment 
(or signing the comment, if submitted on behalf of an association, 
business, labor union, etc.). You may review DOT's complete Privacy Act 
Statement in the Federal Register published on April 11, 2000 (Volume 
65, Number 70; Pages 19477-78).

List of Subjects in 49 CFR Part 571

    Imports, Motor vehicle safety, Motor vehicles, and Tires.

    In consideration of the foregoing, NHTSA amends 49 CFR part 571 as 
set forth below.

PART 571--FEDERAL MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY STANDARDS

0
1. The authority citation for Part 571 is amended to read as follows:

    Authority:  49 U.S.C. 322, 30111, 30115, 30117 and 30166; 
delegation of authority at 49 CFR 1.95.


0
2. Section 571.208 is amended by revising S4.4, S4.5.5.1(a) and 
S4.5.5.1(b), the introductory text of S4.5.5.2(a), the introductory 
text of S4.5.5.2(b), and the introductory text of S7.1.1.5; and adding 
S7.1.6, to read as follows:


Sec.  571.208  Standard No. 208; Occupant crash protection.

* * * * *
    S4.4 Buses manufactured on or after November 28, 2016.
    S4.4.1 Definitions. For purposes of S4.4, the following definitions 
apply:
    Over-the-road bus means a bus characterized by an elevated 
passenger deck located over a baggage compartment, except a school bus.
    Perimeter-seating bus means a bus with 7 or fewer designated 
seating positions rearward of the driver's seating position that are 
forward-facing or can convert to forward-facing without the use of 
tools and is not an over-the-road bus.
    Prison bus means a bus manufactured for the purpose of transporting 
persons subject to involuntary restraint or confinement and has design 
features consistent with that purpose.
    Stop-request system means a vehicle-integrated system for passenger 
use to signal to a vehicle operator that they are requesting a stop.
    Transit bus means a bus that is equipped with a stop-request system 
sold for public transportation provided by, or on behalf of, a State or 
local government and that is not an over-the-road bus.
    S4.4.2 Buses with a GVWR of 3,855 kg (8,500 lb) or less and an 
unloaded vehicle weight of 2,495 kg (5,500 lb) or less.
    S4.4.2.1 Each bus with a GVWR of 3,855 kg (8,500 lb) or less and an 
unloaded vehicle weight of 2,495 kg (5,500 lb) or less, except a school 
bus, shall comply with the requirements of S4.2.6 of this standard for 
front seating positions and with the requirements of S4.4.3.1 of this 
standard for all rear seating positions.
    S4.4.2.2 Each school bus with a GVWR of 3,855 kg (8,500 lb) or less 
and an unloaded vehicle weight of 2,495 kg (5,500 lb) or less shall 
comply with the requirements of S4.2.6 of this standard for front 
seating positions and with the requirements of S4.4.3.2 of this 
standard for all rear seating positions.
    S4.4.3 Buses with a GVWR of 4,536 kg (10,000 lb) or less.
    S4.4.3.1 Except as provided in S4.4.3.1.1, S4.4.3.1.2, S4.4.3.1.3, 
S4.4.3.1.4 and S4.4.3.1.5, each bus with a gross vehicle weight rating 
of 4,536 kg (10,000 lb) or less, except a school bus or an over-the-
road bus, shall be equipped with a Type 2 seat belt assembly at every 
designated seating position other than a side-facing position. Type 2 
seat belt assemblies installed in compliance with this requirement 
shall conform to Standard No. 209 (49 CFR 571.209) and with S7.1 and 
S7.2 of this standard. If a Type 2 seat belt assembly installed in 
compliance with this requirement incorporates a webbing tension 
relieving device, the vehicle owner's manual shall include the 
information specified in S7.4.2(b) of this standard for the tension 
relieving device, and the vehicle shall conform to S7.4.2(c) of this 
standard. Side-facing designated seating positions shall be equipped, 
at the manufacturer's option, with a Type 1 or Type 2 seat belt 
assembly.
    S4.4.3.1.1 Any rear designated seating position with a seat that 
can be adjusted to be forward- or rear-facing and to face some other 
direction shall either:
    (a) Meet the requirements of S4.4.3.1 with the seat in any position 
in which it can be occupied while the vehicle is in motion, or meet 
S4.4.3.1.1(b)(1) and S4.4.3.1.1(b)(2).
    (b)(1) When the seat is in its forward-facing and/or rear-facing 
position, or within 30 degrees of either position, have a 
Type 2 seat belt assembly with an upper torso restraint that
    (i) Conforms to S7.1 and S7.2 of this standard,
    (ii) Adjusts by means of an emergency locking retractor conforming 
to Standard No. 209 (49 CFR 571.209), and
    (iii) May be detachable at the buckle or upper anchorage, but not 
both.
    (2) When the seat is in any position in which it can be occupied 
while the vehicle is in motion, have a Type 1 seat belt or the pelvic 
portion of a Type 2 seat belt assembly that conforms to S7.1 and S7.2 
of this standard.
    S4.4.3.1.2 Any rear designated seating position on a readily 
removable seat (that is, a seat designed to be easily removed and 
replaced by means installed by the manufacturer for that purpose) may 
meet the requirements of S4.4.3.1 by use of a belt incorporating a 
release mechanism that detaches both the lap and shoulder portion at 
either the upper or lower anchorage point, but not both. The means of 
detachment shall be a key or key-like object.
    S4.4.3.1.3 Any inboard designated seating position on a seat for 
which the entire seat back can be folded such that no part of the seat 
back extends above a horizontal plane located 250 mm above the highest 
SRP located on the seat may meet the requirements of S4.4.3.1 by use of 
a belt incorporating a release mechanism that detaches both the lap and 
shoulder portion at either the upper or lower anchorage point, but not 
both. The means of detachment shall be a key or key-like object.
    S4.4.3.1.4 Any rear designated seating position adjacent to a 
walkway located between the seat, which

[[Page 70473]]

walkway is designed to allow access to more rearward designated seating 
positions, and not adjacent to the side of the vehicle may meet the 
requirements of S4.4.3.1 by use of a belt incorporating a release 
mechanism that detaches both the lap and shoulder portion at either the 
upper or lower anchorage point, but not both. The means of detachment 
shall be a key or key-like object.
    S4.4.3.1.5 Any rear side-facing designated seating position shall 
be equipped with a Type 1 or Type 2 seat belt assembly that conforms to 
S7.1 and S7.2 of this standard.
    S4.4.3.2 Each school bus with a gross vehicle weight rating of 
4,536 kg (10,000 pounds) or less shall comply with the requirements of 
S4.4.3.2.1 and S4.4.3.2.2.
    S4.4.3.2.1 The driver's designated seating position and any 
outboard designated seating position not rearward of the driver's 
seating position shall be equipped with a Type 2 seat belt assembly. 
The seat belt assembly shall comply with Standard No. 209 (49 CFR 
571.209) and with S7.1 and S7.2 of this standard. The lap belt portion 
of the seat belt assembly shall include either an emergency locking 
retractor or an automatic locking retractor. An automatic locking 
retractor shall not retract webbing to the next locking position until 
at least \3/4\; inch of webbing has moved into the retractor. In 
determining whether an automatic locking retractor complies with this 
requirement, the webbing is extended to 75 percent of its length and 
the retractor is locked after the initial adjustment. If the seat belt 
assembly installed in compliance with this requirement incorporates any 
webbing tension-relieving device, the vehicle owner's manual shall 
include the information specified in S7.4.2(b) of this standard for the 
tension-relieving device, and the vehicle shall comply with S7.4.2(c) 
of this standard.
    S4.4.3.2.2 Passenger seating positions, other than any outboard 
designated seating position not rearward of the driver's seating 
position, shall be equipped with Type 2 seat belt assemblies that 
comply with the requirements of S7.1.1.5, S7.1.5 and S7.2 of this 
standard.
    S4.4.3.3 Each over-the-road-bus with a GVWR of 4,536 kg (10,000 lb) 
or less shall meet the requirements of S4.4.5.1 (as specified for buses 
with a GVWR or more than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb)).
    S4.4.4 Buses with a GVWR of more than 4,536 kg (10,000 lb) but not 
greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb).
    S4.4.4.1 Each bus with a GVWR of more than 4,536 kg (10,000 lb) but 
not greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb), except a school bus or an over-
the-road bus, shall meet the requirements of S4.4.4.1.1 or S4.4.4.1.2.
    S4.4.4.1.1 First option--complete passenger protection system--
driver only. The vehicle shall meet the crash protection requirements 
of S5, with respect to an anthropomorphic test dummy in the driver's 
designated seating position, by means that require no action by vehicle 
occupants.
    S4.4.4.1.2 Second option--belt system--driver only. The vehicle 
shall, at the driver's designated seating position, be equipped with 
either a Type 1 or a Type 2 seat belt assembly that conforms to Sec.  
571.209 of this part and S7.2 of this Standard. A Type 1 belt assembly 
or the pelvic portion of a dual retractor Type 2 belt assembly 
installed at the driver's seating position shall include either an 
emergency locking retractor or an automatic locking retractor. If a 
seat belt assembly installed at the driver's seating position includes 
an automatic locking retractor for the lap belt or the lap belt 
portion, that seat belt assembly shall comply with the following:
    (a) An automatic locking retractor used at a driver's seating 
position that has some type of suspension system for the seat shall be 
attached to the seat structure that moves as the suspension system 
functions.
    (b) The lap belt or lap belt portion of a seat belt assembly 
equipped with an automatic locking retractor that is installed at the 
driver's seating position must allow at least \3/4\; inch, but less 
than 3 inches, of webbing movement before retracting webbing to the 
next locking position.
    (c) Compliance with S4.4.4.2.1(b) of this standard is determined as 
follows:
    (1) The seat belt assembly is buckled and the retractor end of the 
seat belt assembly is anchored to a horizontal surface. The webbing for 
the lap belt or lap belt portion of the seat belt assembly is extended 
to 75 percent of its length and the retractor is locked after the 
initial adjustment.
    (2) A load of 20 pounds is applied to the free end of the lap belt 
or the lap belt portion of the belt assembly (i.e., the end that is not 
anchored to the horizontal surface) in the direction away from the 
retractor. The position of the free end of the belt assembly is 
recorded.
    (3) Within a 30 second period, the 20 pound load is slowly 
decreased, until the retractor moves to the next locking position. The 
position of the free end of the belt assembly is recorded again.
    (4) The difference between the two positions recorded for the free 
end of the belt assembly shall be at least \3/4\; inch but less than 3 
inches.
    S4.4.4.2 Each school bus with a GVWR of more than 4,536 kg (10,000 
lb) but not greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb) shall be equipped with a 
Type 2 seat belt assembly at the driver's designated seating position. 
The seat belt assembly shall comply with Standard No. 209 (49 CFR 
571.209) and with S7.1 and S7.2 of this standard. If a seat belt 
assembly installed in compliance with this requirement includes an 
automatic locking retractor for the lap belt portion, that seat belt 
assembly shall comply with paragraphs (a) through (c) of S4.4.4.1.2 of 
this standard. If a seat belt assembly installed in compliance with 
this requirement incorporates any webbing tension-relieving device, the 
vehicle owner's manual shall include the information specified in 
S7.4.2(b) of this standard for the tension-relieving device, and the 
vehicle shall comply with S7.4.2(c) of this standard.
    S4.4.4.3 Each over-the-road-bus with a GVWR of more than 4,536 kg 
(10,000 lb) but not greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb) shall meet the 
requirements of S4.4.5.1 (as specified for buses with a GVWR or more 
than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb)).
    S4.4.5 Buses with a GVWR of more than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb).
    S4.4.5.1 Each bus with a GVWR of more than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb), 
except a perimeter-seating bus, transit bus, or school bus, shall 
comply with the requirements of S4.4.5.1.1 and S4.4.5.1.2.
    S4.4.5.1.1 The driver's designated seating position and any 
outboard designated seating position not rearward of the driver's 
seating position shall be equipped with a Type 2 seat belt assembly. 
The seat belt assembly shall comply with Standard No. 209 (49 CFR 
571.209) and with S7.1 and S7.2 of this standard. If a seat belt 
assembly installed in compliance with this requirement includes an 
automatic locking retractor for the lap belt portion, that seat belt 
assembly shall comply with paragraphs (a) through (c) of S4.4.4.1.2 of 
this standard. If a seat belt assembly installed in compliance with 
this requirement incorporates any webbing tension-relieving device, the 
vehicle owner's manual shall include the information specified in 
S7.4.2(b) of this standard for the tension-relieving device, and the 
vehicle shall comply with S7.4.2(c) of this standard.
    S4.4.5.1.2 Passenger seating positions, other than any outboard 
designated seating position not rearward of the driver's seating 
position and seating positions on prison buses

[[Page 70474]]

rearward of the driver's seating position, shall:
    (a) Other than for over-the-road buses:
    (i) Be equipped with a Type 2 seat belt assembly at any seating 
position that is not a side-facing position;
    (ii) Be equipped with a Type 1 or Type 2 seat belt assembly at any 
seating position that is a side-facing position;
    (c) For over-the-road buses, be equipped with a Type 2 seat belt 
assembly;
    (d) Have the seat belt assembly attached to the seat structure at 
any seating position that has another seating position, wheelchair 
position, or side emergency door behind it; and
    (e) Comply with the requirements of S7.1.1.5, S7.1.3, S7.1.6 and 
S7.2 of this standard.
    S4.4.5.2 Each perimeter-seating bus and transit bus with a GVWR of 
more than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb) shall meet the requirements of 
S4.4.4.1.1 or S4.4.4.1.2 (as specified for buses with a GVWR of more 
than 4,536 kg (10,000 lb) but not greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb)).
    S4.4.5.3 Each school bus with a GVWR of more than 11,793 kg (26,000 
lb) shall be equipped with a Type 2 seat belt assembly at the driver's 
designated seating position. The seat belt assembly shall comply with 
Standard No. 209 (49 CFR 571.209) and with S7.1 and S7.2 of this 
standard. If a seat belt assembly installed in compliance with this 
requirement includes an automatic locking retractor for the lap belt 
portion, that seat belt assembly shall comply with paragraphs (a) 
through (c) of S4.4.4.1.2 of this standard. If a seat belt assembly 
installed in compliance with this requirement incorporates any webbing 
tension-relieving device, the vehicle owner's manual shall include the 
information specified in S7.4.2(b) of this standard for the tension-
relieving device, and the vehicle shall comply with S7.4.2(c) of this 
standard.
* * * * *
    S4.5.5.1 Vehicles manufactured on or after September 1, 2005 and 
before September 1, 2007.
    (a) For vehicles manufactured for sale in the United States on or 
after September 1, 2005, and before September 1, 2007, a percentage of 
the manufacturer's production as specified in S4.5.5.2, shall meet the 
requirements specified in either S4.1.5.5 for complying passenger cars, 
S4.2.7 for complying trucks and multipurpose passenger vehicles, or 
S4.4.3.1 for complying buses.
    (b) A manufacturer that sells two or fewer carlines, as that term 
is defined at 49 CFR 583.4, in the United States may, at the option of 
the manufacturer, meet the requirements of this paragraph, instead of 
paragraph (a) of this section. Each vehicle manufactured on or after 
September 1, 2006, and before September 1, 2007, shall meet the 
requirements specified in S4.1.5.5 for complying passenger cars, S4.2.7 
for complying trucks & multipurpose passenger vehicles, and S4.4.3.1 
for complying buses. Credits for vehicles manufactured before September 
1, 2006 are not to be applied to the requirements of this paragraph.
* * * * *
    S4.5.5.2 Phase-in schedule.
    (a) Vehicles manufactured on or after September 1, 2005, and before 
September 1, 2006. Subject to S4.5.5.3(a), for vehicles manufactured on 
or after September 1, 2005, and before September 1, 2006, the amount of 
vehicles complying with S4.1.5.5 for complying passenger cars, S4.2.7 
for complying trucks and multipurpose passenger vehicles, or S4.4.3.1 
for complying buses shall be not less than 50 percent of:
    * * *
    (b) Vehicles manufactured on or after September 1, 2006, and before 
September 1, 2007. Subject to S4.5.5.3(b), for vehicles manufactured on 
or after September 1, 2006, and before September 1, 2007, the amount of 
vehicles complying with S4.1.5.5 for complying passenger cars, S4.2.7 
for complying trucks and multipurpose passenger vehicles, or S4.4.3.1 
for complying buses shall be not less than 80 percent of:
* * * * *
    S7.1.1.5 Passenger cars, and trucks, buses, and multipurpose 
passenger vehicles with a GVWR of 4,536 kg (10,000 lb) or less 
manufactured on or after September 1, 1995 and buses with a GVWR of 
more than 11,793 kg (26,000 pounds) manufactured on or after November 
28, 2016, except a perimeter-seating bus, prison bus, school bus, or 
transit bus, shall meet the requirements of S7.1.1.5(a), S7.1.1.5(b) 
and S7.1.1.5(c).
    * * *
    S7.1.6 Passenger seats, other than any outboard designated seating 
position not rearward of the driver's seating position, in buses with a 
GVWR of more than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb) manufactured on or after 
November 28, 2016. The lap belt of any seat belt assembly on any 
passenger seat in each bus with a GVWR of more than 11,793 kg (26,000 
lb), except a perimeter-seating bus, prison bus, school bus, or transit 
bus, shall adjust by means of any emergency-locking retractor that 
conforms to 49 CFR 571.209 to fit persons whose dimensions range from 
those of a 50th percentile 6-year-old child to those of a 95th 
percentile adult male and the upper torso restraint shall adjust by 
means of an emergency-locking retractor that conforms to 49 CFR 571.209 
to fit persons whose dimensions range from those of a 5th percentile 
adult female to those of a 95th percentile adult male, with the seat in 
any position, the seat back in the manufacturer's nominal design riding 
position, and any adjustable anchorages adjusted to the manufacturer's 
nominal design position for a 50th percentile adult male occupant.
* * * * *

0
3. Section 571.222 is amended by:
0
a. Revising S5(a)(2)(i);
0
b. Removing and reserving S5(b)(1)(ii); and
0
c. Revising S5(b)(1)(iii).
    The revisions read as follows:


Sec.  571.222  Standard No. 222; School bus passenger seating and crash 
protection.

* * * * *
    S5. Requirements.
* * * * *
    (a) Large school buses.
    * * *
    (2) * * *
    (i) S4.4.3.2 of Standard No. 208 (49 CFR 571.208);
* * * * *
    (b) Small school buses. * * *
    (1)
    (iii) In the case of vehicles manufactured on or after October 21, 
2011 the requirements of S4.4.3.2 of Sec.  571.208 and the requirements 
of Sec. Sec.  571.207, 571.209 and 571.210 as they apply to school 
buses with a gross vehicle weight rating of 4,536 kg or less; and,
* * * * *

    Dated: November 19, 2013.
David L. Strickland,
Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2013-28211 Filed 11-20-13; 4:15 pm]
BILLING CODE 4910-59-P