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