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Tour bus seatbelts to be made compulsory by end of year

Tour bus passengers will be required by law to buckle up by the end of the year, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) said Tuesday.

The MOTC's announcement came one day after six passengers were killed after they were thrown off a tour bus that crashed on a freeway guardrail in Kaohsiung on the early hours of Monday.

Deputy Director-General of MOTC's Department of Railways and Highways Chang Shun-ching (張舜清) said that most of the tour buses operating in Taiwan are already equipped with seatbelts since the MOTC made them mandatory in buses manufactured after July 2007. Current regulations, however, only requires passengers on specific seats such as the shotgun seat to wear seatbelts.

The MOTC took up the issue in review of safety rules in the wake of a February tour bus accident that killed 33, Chang said. The MOTC reached an agreement with tour bus operators to make seatbelts compulsory for all passengers above 4 years old on a tour buses traveling on a freeway or a highway. Operators of buses that violate the regulations can be punished by fines between NT$9,000 to NT$90,000.

Chang said the government will try to expedite the drafting process to pass the regulation into law by the end of the year.

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