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Rule title:
Motorcoach Crash Protection
2127-AK56                                                                          RIA Separate?        Yes
Stage                                                                              Publication Date
Proposed Rule                                                                      8/18/2010
Rule summary:
In accordance with NHTSA’s 2007 Motorcoach Safety Plan and DOT’s 2009 Departmental Motorcoach Safety
Action Plan, NHTSA is issuing this NPRM to propose to amend the Federal motor vehicle safety standard
(FMVSS) on occupant crash protection (FMVSS No. 208) to require lap/shoulder seat belts for each
passenger seating position in new motorcoaches. This NPRM also proposes to require a lap/shoulder belt for
the motorcoach and large school bus driver’s seating positions, which currently are required to have either a
lap or a lap/shoulder belt. Although motorcoach transportation overall is a safe form of transportation in the
United States, several motorcoach crashes in 2008 have illustrated that motorcoach rollover crashes, while a
relatively rare event, can cause a significant number of fatal or serious injuries in a single event. NHTSA’s
safety research on motorcoach seat belts, completed in 2009, shows that the installation of lap/shoulder belts
on motorcoaches is practicable and effective. We believe that the seat belt assemblies that would be installed
on motorcoach passenger seats pursuant to this rulemaking could reduce the risk of fatal injuries in rollover
crashes by 77 percent, primarily by preventing occupant ejection in a crash.

Openness                                                                      Score     Comments
1. How easily were the RIA, the proposed rule, and any supplementary
materials found online?                                                       4         See Topic 1 Tab
2. How verifiable are the data used in the analysis?                          3         See Topic 1 Tab
3. How verifiable are the models and assumptions used in the analysis?        3         See Topic 1 Tab
4. Was the Regulatory Impact Analysis comprehensible to an informed
layperson?                                                                    2         See Topic 1 Tab

Total Openness (Sum of 1-4)                                                   12

Analysis                                                                    Score       Comments
5. How well does the analysis identify the desired outcomes and demonstrate
that the regulation will achieve them?                                      4           See Topic 2 Tab

6. How well does the analysis identify and demonstrate the existence of a
market failure or other systemic problem the regulation is supposed to solve? 1         See Topic 2 Tab
7. How well does the analysis assess the effectiveness of alternative
approaches?                                                                   2         See Topic 2 Tab
8. How well does the analysis assess costs and benefits?                      2         See Topic 2 Tab

Total Analysis (Sum of 5-8)                                                   9

Use                                                                           Score     Comments
9. Does the proposed rule or the RIA present evidence that the agency used
the Regulatory Impact Analysis?                                               3         See Topic 3 Tab
10. Did the agency maximize net benefits or explain why it chose another
alternative?                                                                  3         See Topic 3 Tab
11. Does the proposed rule establish measures and goals that can be used
to track the regulation’s results in the future?                               1        See Topic 3 Tab

12. Did the agency indicate what data it will use to assess the regulation’s
performance in the future and establish provisions for doing so?               2        See Topic 3 Tab

Total Use (Sum of 9-12)                                                        9

Total Score                                                                        30
Rule Title RIN                                                 Openness
                      Agency Pub Date RIA separate? Total (G+H+J)              Analysis
Motorcoach Crash Protection HHS 8/18/2010 Yes               30            12              9
Quality (G+H) Use       1   2   3   45       5A       5B
             21     9   4   3   3   2    4        5        5
5C       5D       5E       6       6A       6B       6C       6D       7
     3        4        3       1        1        0        1        0       2
7A       7B       7C       7D       8       8A       8B       8C       8D
     3        1        3        1       2        5        4        0        1
8E       8F       8G       8H       8I       9       10       11       12
     1        2        5        1        0       3        3        1        2
Criterion                      Score Com. No. Comment
                                              The Federal Register notice and the
                                              RIA can be found on
                                              via a RIN or keyword search.
                                              However, the notice is filed under
                                              "rules" rather than "proposed rules." A
                                              link to the Federal Register notice is
                                              also three clicks from the DOT home
                                              page -- select NHTSA from the drop-
1. How easily were the RIA ,                  down menu, then "laws and
                                              regulations," then "seat belts" for a list
the proposed rule, and any                    of recent initiatives. The RIA
supplementary materials                       document does not appear to be on
found online?                  4     1        the DOT web site.

                                                 Data on fatalities, crashes, and
                                                 injuries appear to be from government
                                                 databases, but only a reader already
                                                 knowledgeable about these data could
                                                 find them based on the information
                                                 given. Some data sources are cited
                                                 but not linked. Some data are sourced
2. How verifiable are the data                   to discussions with manufacturers or
used in the analysis?          3      2          bus companies.

                                                 Several "simplifying assumptions"
                                                 used to estimate motorcoach injuries
                                                 seem pulled from thin air. Some other
                                                 quantitative assumptions are "based
                                                 on" studies of things other than
                                                 motorcoaches, but it is not clear how
                                                 the authors got from the results of
                                                 other studies to the assumptions used
                                                 in this RIA. Potential substantial retrofit
                                                 costs for small operators are
3. How verifiable are the                        dismissed with an undocumented
models and assumptions                           assumption that they do not compete
used in the analysis?          3      3          with large operators.
                               Description of results from crash
                               dummy tests is highly technical and
                               understandable only to those already
                               familiar with the topic. Then these
                               results are rejected in favor of data on
                               effectiveness of seatbelts in the rear
                               seat of cars. Then the analysis says it
                               uses data on effectiveness of front
                               seat restraints. So it is really not clear
                               what research findings the benefit
                               estimates are based on, or whether
                               they are reasonable. The RIA
                               document reads like it was put
                               together in a hurry. On the plus side,
                               most calculations are spelled out
                               clearly. The executive summary in the
4. Was the analysis            Federal Register notice does an
comprehensible to an           excellent job of presenting the results
informed layperson?    2   4   of the analysis.
                                   Score   Com. No. Comment

5. How well does the
analysis identify the desired
outcomes and demonstrate
that the regulation will
achieve them?                      4
Does the analysis clearly
identify ultimate outcomes
that affect citizens’ quality of                     Fatalities and injuries avoided in motorcoach
life?                              5       5A        accidents.
Does the analysis identify
how these outcomes are to                            RIA estimates fatalities and injuries avoided, and it
be measured?                       5       5B        monetizes them.
Does the analysis provide a
                                                     Seat belts prevent ejection of passengers from
coherent and testable theory
                                                     seats when a motorcoach rolls over or collides.
showing how the regulation                           Requiring seat belts will therefore reduce fatalities
will produce the desired                             and injuries if passengers use them. But whether
outcomes?                          3       5C        passengers use them is a big question mark.

                                                     Results of crash tests and studies of automobile
                                                     seatbelt use appear to show that seat belts with
                                                     shoulder harnesses reduce injuries, but seat belts
                                                     alone increase them. RIA notes that Australia and
                                                     the EU require seat belts but claims data are
                                                     insufficient to assess their effectiveness there. The
Does the analysis present                            analysis acknowledges that seatbelt use is
credible empirical support for                       uncertain and cites some empirical studies on seat
the theory?                    4           5D        belt use.
                                                     Seat belt use rate is uncertain, so the analysis
Does the analysis
                                                     estimated a range based on seat belt use rates in
adequately assess                                    Australian motorcoaches (low) and seat belt use in
uncertainty about the                                US cars (high). The benefit-cost analysis also
outcomes?                      3           5E        calculates a breakeven belt use rate.
6. How well does the
analysis identify and
demonstrate the existence of
a market failure or other
systemic problem the
regulation is supposed to
solve?                       1

                                        RIA lists a 2-sentence justification in the Regulatory
                                        Flexibility section -- few motorcoaches have seat
                                        belts. The preamble to the rule states that although
                                        motorcoach accidents are rare, they create a large
                                        number of fatalities and injuries when they occur.
                                        The analysis does not show that motorcoach users
                                        are demanding seatbelts on motorcoaches and not
Does the analysis identify a            being provided with them. The analysis even
market failure or other                 mentions that some motorcoach companies have
systemic problem?              1   6A   started providing seatbelts in their motorcoaches.

Does the analysis outline a
coherent and testable theory
that explains why the
problem (associated with the            No explanation of why passengers are not getting
outcome above) is systemic              the amount of safety they have shown themselves
rather than anecdotal?       0     6B   willing to pay for.
                                        There is no theory explaining a market failure or
                                        systemic problem, and no evidence presented to
                                        support such a theory. The closest the RIA comes
                                        to providing evidence of a problem is statistics
                                        showing that most injuries and fatalities stem from
                                        collisions or rollovers, where seat belts might help.
Does the analysis present               The Fed Register notice presents informative
credible empirical support for          statistics showing how DOT is isolating the most
the theory?                    1   6C   significant causes of fatalities and injuries.
Does the analysis
adequately assess
uncertainty about the
existence or size of the
problem?                       0   6D   Problem is assumed certain.
7. How well does the
analysis assess the
effectiveness of alternative
approaches?                    2
                                        The agency considers three alternatives: the one
                                        chosen, a requirement for lap belts only, and a
                                        retrofit requirement. The Federal Register notice
Does the analysis enumerate             also mentions alternative strength requirements for
other alternatives to address           anchoring belts, but these were not subjected to
the problem?                  3    7A   the RIA.

Is the range of alternatives
considered narrow (e.g.,
some exemptions to a
regulation) or broad (e.g.,
regulation vs. command and
control, market mechanisms,
nonbinding guidance,
information disclosure,
addressing any government
failures that caused the                These are all variations on the same basic
original problem)?           1     7B   regulatory theme -- requiring belts.

                                        Benefits of lap/shoulder belts, lap belts, and retrofit
                                        are calculated. The calculation of positive benefits
                                        for lap belts seems odd, since the crash dummy
Does the analysis evaluate
                                        tests seem to show that lap belts increase injuries.
how alternative approaches              Benefits of retrofit are not part of the formal
would affect the amount of              "benefit" section but are mentioned in passing in
the outcome achieved?         3    7C   the section discussing cost-effectiveness.
Does the analysis
adequately address the
baseline? That is, what the
state of the world is likely to
                                         Baseline is assumed to be same incidence of
be in the absence of federal             injuries and fatalities experienced over the past 10
intervention not just now but            years. No discussion of how safety might change in
in the future?                  1   7D   the future in the absence of a regulation.
8. How well does the
analysis assess costs and
benefits?                       2
Does the analysis identify
and quantify incremental
costs of all alternatives                Costs lap belts, lap/shoulder belts, and retrofit are
considered?                     5   8A   calculated.
                                        Costs of installing belts and additional fuel costs
Does the analysis identify all          are estimated. Estimates that the cost of fitting a
expenditures likely to arise            new motorcoach is $12,500 and estimates added
as a result of the regulation? 4   8B   fuel costs due to extra weight.
Does the analysis identify
how the regulation would
likely affect the prices of
goods and services?            0   8C   No relevant discussion.

                                        No discussion of behavioral changes that might
                                        affect costs. Analysis acknowledges that not all
Does the analysis examine               passengers will use the belts and that this is a big
                                        uncertainty affecting benefits. It is surprising to see
costs that stem from
                                        no other content, since the Federal Register notice
changes in human behavior               says the regulation does not apply to school buses
as consumers and producers              in part because the cost increases might lead more
respond to the regulation? 1       8D   students to take less safe transportation options.

If costs are uncertain, does
                                        No real discussion of cost uncertainty, except
the analysis present a range            acknowledgement of uncertainties about costs of
of estimates and/or perform             retrofit. But this regulatory alternative was not
a sensitivity analysis?      1     8E   thoroughly studied.
                                        Identifies net benefits for lap belts and lap/shoulder
                                        belts, but not for retrofit. The alternative that
Does the analysis identify              maximizes net benefits varies depending on
the alternative that                    assumptions, so it is not clear which alternative
maximizes net benefits?       2    8F   maximizes net benefits.

Does the analysis identify
the cost-effectiveness of
each alternative considered? 5     8G   RIA estimates cost per equivalent life saved.
Does the analysis identify all
parties who would bear costs
and assess the incidence of             Little discussion beyond a claim that this regulation
costs?                         1   8H   will not affect the viability of small entities.

Does the analysis identify all
parties who would receive
benefits and assess the
incidence of benefits?         0   8I   No discussion of incidence of benefits.
Criterion                     Score Com. No. Comment

                                              The decision to require lap and shoulder belts
                                              appears motivated just as much by an NTSB
                                              recommendation issued as part of a 1999
                                              investigation as by the RIA. DOT is not requiring
                                              seat belts in transit buses because statistics
                                              show the danger to passengers in those buses is
                                              much lower. The proposed regulation does not
9. Does the proposed rule or
                                              require retrofit due to substantial estimated costs,
the RIA present evidence                      but the notice seeks further comment on retrofit,
that the agency used the                      so the option has not been ruled out based on
analysis?                    3     9          costs yet.

                                              Of the options analyzed, DOT chose the one with
                                              the largest net benefits under one set of
                                              assumptions. However, the range of alternatives
                                              was quite narrow. It is also not clear if the chosen
                                              alternative really maximizes net benefits, since
10. Did the agency maximize                   another alternative maximizes net benefits under
net benefits or explain why it                other assumptions and net benefits of a third
chose another alternative? 3       10         alternative were not calculated.
11. Does the proposed rule
establish measures and
goals that can be used to                     The Federal Register notice mentions no
track the regulation's results                provisions for goals or targets. These could easily
in the future?                 1   11         be developed based on the RIA's projections.
12. Did the agency indicate
what data it will use to
                                              After the regulation is adopted, it would be easy
assess the regulation's
                                              to use the same data mentioned in the RIA to
performance in the future                     assess in the future whether significant bus
and establish provisions for                  accidents lead to the same incidence of fatalities
doing so?                      2   12         and injuries from passenger ejection.

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