REI Engineers Solutions for California’s 2020 Charter-Party Carrier Regulations

by Jay Barringer

Between 1975 and 2017, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration notes, 1,462 fatal crashes involving motorcoaches occurred, resulting in 501 occupant fatalities. These figures, along with a 2015 National Transportation Safety Board report, prompted the California legislature’s recent focus on the safety of passengers traveling with charter-party carriers. The result: new California laws to improve safety standards and practices are set to begin July 1, 2020.

These new laws stipulate that charter-party buses manufactured on or after July 1, 2020, with 39 seats or more (including the driver’s seat) must have interior lighting fixtures that illuminate automatically in the event of a collision, rollover or impact by another vehicle or object. In addition, vehicles of this same size are required to inform passengers about the operation and locations of the vehicle’s safety equipment and emergency exits prior to departure, either by written instructions or a video. It is determined that these new laws will increase passenger safety and reduce or prevent future fatalities.

Anticipating the laws’ impending deadlines, REI®, an Omaha, Neb.-based engineering and manufacturing company, quickly began collaborating with major vehicle manufacturers to devise a compliant, innovative solution that would integrate easily with vehicles’ chassis electronics. The two-part solution: a new Emergency Lighting Module coupled with an MP-5000HD Digital Media Player.

Emergency Lighting Module

REI’s new Emergency Lighting Module houses a built-in accelerometer and gyroscope to detect impacts and g-forces, sudden speed changes, excessive acceleration, hard braking, extreme shifts in the vehicle’s angle and other sudden deviations from normal driving motions. Upon impact, the module detects sudden changes and automatically illuminates all of the carrier’s existing interior lights, including those located on the floor.

“REI’s Emergency Lighting Module is an industry-first solution that addresses and complies with the new law on safety lighting. It’s a plug-and-play device that activates interior lights, regardless of the time of day, to assist with passenger evacuation after rollovers and other accidents,” noted REI President Scott Hays.

Rock Tarnick, REI’s vice president of engineering and manufacturing, added, “The solution had to be simple and integrate seamlessly. The resulting module is easy for manufacturers to install on new vehicles and may be retrofitted on existing fleets.”

Digital Media Player with GPS and Passenger Safety Messaging

In tandem with California’s recent emergency lighting law is the requirement that passengers be notified, through written instructions or a video, about the locations and operations of the carriers’ exits and safety equipment prior to the vehicles’ departures. REI’s solution: the MP-5000HD Digital Media Player with GPS and Passenger Safety Messaging.

“Safety requirements previously mandated for airlines are now being carried over to on-the-road transportation industries. What makes the MP-5000HD a compliant solution is its automatic video playback ability, similar to the airlines,” said Tarnick.

Currently, more than 12 other states are considering similar legislation.

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