New Standards for School Bus Seat Belts

In October, the remaining provisions of NHTSA’s final rule on school bus occupant protection go into effect. Here, seat belt manufacturers discuss the changes.

“We applaud NHTSA that they took this step towards bringing lapshoulder belts to school buses,” Vits says. “However, the requirement is for school buses with a GVWR of 10,000 pounds or less. This represents a very small portion of new school buses sold each year.”

Vits says that most Type A school buses are over 10,000 pounds, so they don’t fall under the mandate. “Yet these buses have similar crash characteristics as the lower-weight Type A buses,” he notes. “All children riding Type A buses have the same need for the enhanced occupant protection that lap-shoulder belts afford.”

Knapp offers a similar assessment.

“I would like to have seen the requirement go up to 14,000 pounds,”  he says. “I feel that they should have brought it up to cover all the Type As and Bs.”

While this issue was raised in comments to NHTSA in the proposal stage of the rulemaking, the agency said that it was beyond the scope of the final rule.

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