The federal agency also finalized a proposal to tighten requirements for offering a commercial driver's license. The new license can be obtained only after obtaining a learner's permit, and all states issuing the test will need to use a federal testing system.
While the new operating and testing procedures will help ensure the safety of the estimated 700 million passengers who utilize tour buses every year, several bus safety standards have still not been announced. The Transportation Department is hoping to add requirements that new buses have seat belts and stronger roofs and windows to prevent passengers from being ejected in a roll-over accident.
The renewed interest in tour bus safety came after a string of accidents, including a March 12 crash in New York that lead to the death of 15 passengers. The bus, which was traveling at the maximum speed of 78 miles per hour, fell off an elevated highway and hit a utility pole.