ALEXANDRIA, VA, March 22, 2012— United Motorcoach Association (UMA) President & CEO, Victor Parra, has testified before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade on behalf of the association’s members. The hearing, entitled “Motor Vehicle Safety Provisions in House and Senate Highway Bills,” held today at 10:00am, was chaired by U.S. Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) to learn the views of the Administration and other stakeholders considering the vehicle safety provisions included in the House and Senate highway bills.
“On behalf of UMA, it is my goal to provide the Committee our perspectives on the bus and motorcoach safety provisions included in the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act of 2012 (HR 7) as reported from the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and those of S. 1813, as passed by the Senate last week,” stated Mr. Parra at the beginning of his testimony.
“UMA believes the best way to ensure improved safety is to enforce existing Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations for our vehicles and drivers and support initiatives that improve safety that are backed by science and testing…UMA has steadfastly welcomed changes in motorcoach occupant protection; however, those changes must be founded by sound science and testing by appropriate Federal agencies. Any mode of transportation that provides 720 million passengers trips annually, connecting people every day to essential jobs, careers, education healthcare and tourism, demands the best science and regulations our Federal agencies can produce,” stated Parra.
He continued, “UMA believes the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act of 2012,(HR 7) provides for the most rational and reasonable approach to enhanced bus and motorcoach safety. Most of its bus and motorcoach safety provisions were largely based on a bill authored by Congressman Bill Shuster, HR 1390, the Bus Uniform Standards and Enhanced Safety Act of 2011, which we strongly support.”
“HR 7 incorporates the longstanding recommendations of the National Transportation Safety Board and is also consistent with the Secretary of Transportation’s Motorcoach Safety Action Plan. Indeed, NHTSA is already well under way with crash, as well as other, tests. Some of these tests, initiated under the previous Administration, have resulted in proposed rulemaking that would revise the long-standing position that required passive occupant protection in the form of compartmentalization, in favor of requiring three-point seatbelts for every passenger. UMA supports the proposed rulemaking and NHTSA has indicated we will likely see final rulemaking regarding three-point seatbelts later this year, which they estimate could save as many as eight lives annually…A recent survey coordinated by UMA of motorcoach manufacturers indicates the number of recently manufactured motorcoaches with seatbelts is approaching 100%; and other safety related devices are rapidly growing in numbers as well.”
“In contrast, UMA strongly opposes the bus and motorcoach safety provisions included in S. 1813, as we feel it is an example of extreme government overreach and will not lead to increased motorcoach safety. Many of its mandates are overlapping, unnecessary and are currently undergoing research and testing by responsible Federal agencies. Many of the mandates are simply unworkable in the timeframes in which the amendment would require each mandate to be accomplished.”
In his concluding point Parra conveyed, “The motorcoach tour and travel industry contributes nearly $112.7 billion in total economic activity in the United States. At a time when the motorcoach industry is struggling to recover in this economy, this is not the time to impose unnecessary and excessive mandates on an industry with an outstanding safety record.”
Other witnesses included U.S. Representative John Lewis (D-GA) and representatives from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, American Bus Association and Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.
About UMA The United Motorcoach Association is North America’s largest association for operators of motorcoach companies providing charter, tour and regular route services. Founded in 1971, UMA is comprised of over 900 professional bus and motorcoach companies who provide transportation services in all fifty states, Canada and Mexico, and more than 250 supplier, manufacturer, and travel partner members. Headquartered in Alexandria, VA, UMA is dedicated to protecting and promoting the interests of the entire motorcoach industry and providing its members with programs and services to enhance the success of their operations. More information can be obtained by visiting www.uma.org.