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NHTSA SETS STRONGER STANDARDS FOR SMALL SCHOOL BUSES

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

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NHTSA SETS STRONGER STANDARDS FOR SMALL SCHOOL BUSES

NHTSA
November 4, 1998

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NHTSA 74-98
Wednesday November 4, 1998
Contact: Tim Hurd
Tel. No. (202) 366-9550

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration today announced a requirement that small school buses meet the same body joint strength standards that apply to larger school buses.

"Safety is our highest priority," said Ricardo Martinez, M.D., NHTSA administrator. "Although school buses are by far the safest form of transportation, today's action will ensure that all sizes of school buses provide high levels of protection from body joint failures,"

Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 221 requires school bus body panel joints to be strong enough to resist separation during a crash that can cause sharp cutting edges and openings through which children could be ejected.

Before today's action, the requirement applied only to school buses with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds; now all school buses are covered. The safety agency estimates that 6 to 46 minor to serious injuries will be reduced or eliminated annually.

The rule also revises testing requirements and narrows an exclusion for maintenance access panels for both large and small school buses. It takes effect in 18 months.

The average consumer cost per vehicle affected by this final rule will be about $222 per large school bus and $343 per small school bus. Each year, 35,000 school buses are sold, with about 5,600 falling into the "small" category.

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