As a result of the passage of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966 and the School Bus Safety Amendments of 1974, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an agency of the U. S. Department of Transportation, issued 34 Federal motor vehicle safety standards which apply to school buses. Congress has directed NHTSA to require school bus manufacturers to meet more stringent safety standards than apply to passenger vans and other buses. The following are some of the criteria that 11-15 passenger vans do not meet:
- Bus rollover protection which specifies the minimum structural strength of buses
- Bus passenger seating and crash protection which establishes requirements for school bus seating systems for all sizes of buses
- Bus pedestrian safety devices which requires school buses to be equipped with an automatic stop signal arm on the left side of the bus
- Bus amber and red flashing lights that precede and accompany the use of the stop arm
- Bus emergency exits
- Bus mirror systems which provide school bus drivers with a full view of the front and sides of the school bus danger zone
- (For a full list of criteria, see the NHTSA website)
It is illegal for a dealer or leaser to sell or lease a new bus for school use in the bus does not meet the school bus safety standards. In addition, they cannot sell or lease a new bus (defined as any vehicle, including a van, that has a capacity of 11 persons or more including the driver) that is likely to be used to transport students to and from school and school-related events if the bus does not meet all of NHTSA’s school bus safety standards. School districts could be held liable for knowingly using a vehicle that did not conform to the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSSs).
If you are transporting passengers to and from school or school related events, make sure your vehicle conforms to the school bus safety regulations.