Transportation Secretary Announces School Bus Safety Proposal

Published: November 21, 2007

RALEIGH, N.C. – U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters rode Nov. 19 with children in a school bus equipped with three-point seat belts to Morrisville Elementary School near Raleigh, where she announced a new federal proposal aimed at school bus safety.

The new rule would require that all new school buses be equipped with 24-inch seat backs, beginning one year after the rule goes into effect. This 4-inch increase in height will help keep older kids and adults from being thrown over seats in a crash, Secretary Peters said.

The proposal also requires all new small buses to be equipped with three-point belts within three years of the new rule taking effect, replacing the current lap-belts-only requirement.

For the first time, the proposed rule would provide federal standards for seat belts on school buses. The Secretary said the federal government would allow school districts to use federal highway safety funds to cover the additional cost of equipping buses with seat belts.

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The proposed new rule is based, in part, on information gathered during a public meeting on school bus safety that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) held in July. Public comments on the proposed regulations will be accepted for 60 days. To view the proposal, go to http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

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