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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Buses


March 18, 1998

NHTSA 13-98
Wednesday, March 18, 1998
Contact: Phil Frame
Tel. No. (202) 366-9550

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) today announced that it has completed its first group of investigations into vehicle dealers who illegally sold or leased vans that were used as school buses.

"Our motivation in pursuing these investigations is to assure that school children ride on the safest form of transportation on American roads -- the school bus," said NHTSA Administrator Ricardo Martinez, M.D.

Concerned about the use of large vans for carrying students, NHTSA two years ago sought the assistance of school transportation officials in providing investigative leads on illegal sales or leases. NHTSA has completed investigations and assessed civil penalties against 10 dealers.

Federal law provides that school buses are the only vehicles with a capacity of more than 10 passengers that can be manufactured, sold or leased for transporting students to and from school and related events. The law applies to the sale or lease of new vehicles.

According to NHTSA, illegal sales of vans for pupil transportation raise a risk to school children because vans are not required to have the same protective seats, emergency exits, special mirrors, vehicle structure, and fuel systems as school buses. Vans also do not have traffic control devices such as flashing lights and stop arms. School bus drivers also must hold a commercial driver's license.

NHTSA officials said they, along with school transportation officials, remain committed to investigating illegal sales or leases of vans that are used in pupil transportation. Anyone wishing to report a suspected illegal sale or lease of a van used for school transportation can do so by calling the Auto Safety Hotline at 1-800-424-9393.

Following is a list of completed investigations:

Vehicle dealers sanctioned for selling or leasing vans that were used to transport students

Sanctioned Dealerships No. Of Illegal Sales Civil Penalty*

Criswell Chevrolet, Gaithersburg, Md. 3 $1,000
Koons Ford/Dodge, Falls Church, Va. 3 $1,000
Ourisman Dodge, Alexandria, Va. 4 $1,000
Carroll Chevrolet, Crown Point, Ind. 2 $1,000
Ickes Chevrolet, Robinson, Ill. 1 $500
Flow Automotive (Superior Ford), Winston-Salem, N.C. 1 $500
Welcome Corp. (Thrifty Car Rental), Alexandria, Va. 8 $4,400
Pulliam Motor Co., (Pulliam Ford), Columbia, S.C. 6 $3,000
Keffer Dodge, Charlotte, N.C. 4 $1,000
Parkway Ford, Winston-Salem, N.C. 4 $1,000

* Under federal law, the maximum penalty is $1,000 per violation that occurred before Feb. 4, 1997, and $1,100 per violation after that date.

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