A state transportation authority is proposing a new rule that would allow drivers to sit on the bus for up to 15 minutes while passengers are waiting for their turn.
The Maryland Transportation Authority said in a news release Tuesday that the rule would also allow passengers to ride the bus while seated.
The move would be in response to a number of incidents in recent months where drivers have been involved in crashes while sitting in their vehicles.
The authority also said that it would expand the hours that passengers can board a bus and will create a new safety training class.
Maryland Transportation Agency Executive Director Matt Mancini said the new rule would allow buses to stay open longer during peak periods and would provide more flexibility for bus drivers to keep the buses in service.
“We know that passengers, drivers, drivers have a lot of concerns about what they can and can’t do on a bus,” Mancins said in the release.
“In this era of increased technology, it is critical to provide drivers with the tools they need to safely and efficiently deliver passengers to and from their destinations.”
The new rule also would allow the Maryland Transportation Commission to propose and vote on rules for bus operators that require them to take passengers on two-hour “stand-by” hours when they’re not waiting for passengers.
In a recent study, researchers at Duke University and Johns Hopkins University found that while most people will stay seated during their commute, they have a “significant” chance of sustaining a serious injury while waiting in their cars for a bus.
The study, published in the Journal of Transportation Safety, also found that drivers in the study had an average of 13 minutes to wait for a passenger, and drivers who waited longer had an even greater chance of suffering a serious incident, including death.
Mancini noted that the new proposal would also create a pilot program that would be designed to increase the frequency of standing in the middle of the road, as well as provide more flexible bus driver training.
He said the Maryland Department of Transportation would be working with a variety of stakeholders to design a new regulation for bus passengers, including the National Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, Maryland Transportation Service Commission, and Maryland Transportation Association.
Maryland Transportation Commission Chairman and Transportation Commissioner Ed Mierzwinski said the authority is committed to improving public safety and providing a safe, efficient transportation system.
“We are going to have to work with a wide range of stakeholders and we’re going to be looking for innovative ways to do that,” he said.
“We have a great relationship with the Department of Motor Vehicles, but we’re also going to look for ways to address concerns from drivers.”