The UMass Transportation Center, or UMTC, and Sara’s Wish Foundation (SWF) have received a one-year, $83,147, Safe System Innovation Grant from the Road to Zero Coalition to cut down on traffic fatalities by promoting seatbelt usage on motor coaches. The grant will help UMTC and SWF create an effective national motor coach seatbelt educational campaign “kit” for distribution to motor coach operators.
According to the UMass News Office, the kit will include easy-to-implement messages, including formal announcements made by the motor coach driver.
The kit will also feature a video via an in-vehicle monitor or internet-based application; promotional banners at the entrance to the motor coach and in the terminal waiting area; text or email messages sent to riders; digital messages promoting seatbelt usage when tickets are purchased online; as well as a simple message printed on the ticket and also attached to the back of each seat. The message will read, “Be Safe, Sit, Click, and Ride.”
“The expectations are that this campaign kit will enable motor coach operators to make passengers aware of the benefits of wearing seatbelts,” says Anne Schewe, SWF president, “and that this awareness will convince passengers that seatbelts can save their lives and reduce the severity of injuries in crashes. This in turn is expected to lead to increases in motor coach seatbelt usage.”
UMTC Director Michael Knodler says, “The need to continue to focus on promoting seatbelt usage, especially along our busy, high-speed highways, is of paramount importance. And it makes good sense in light of the fact that all new buses since 2016 are required by law to be equipped with seatbelts, a multi-million-dollar investment made annually by motor coach operators.”
The need for an educational campaign will respond to the current low number of bus passengers making use of their seatbelts. As Knodler says, “Based on a small, preliminary survey conducted jointly by SWF and UMTC, current seatbelt usage on motor coaches may be on the order of 1 percent.”
The UMTC conducts transportation research, education, and training activities to improve transportation mobility and safety with innovative technologies and institutional strategies and partnerships. (June 2019)