Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government
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Note that all comments received will be posted without change to
In the School Bus Safety Amendments of 1974, Congress indicated that school transportation should be held to the highest level of safety, since such transportation involves the Nation's most precious resource—children who represent our future.
During the mid 1970's, to address the safety of school bus passengers in a crash, NHTSA established Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS's) to increase the strength of school buses and to improve occupant protection. Three standards addressing rollover protection, body joint strength, and passenger seating and crash protection are unique to school buses. Another six standards have additional requirements that specifically provide for the protection of school bus passengers. Still other standards, such as brakes, tires, fuel system integrity and other safety related systems, ensure that school buses meet rigorous requirements for safety when it comes to avoiding a crash in the first place, or enhancing survivability in the event of a crash.
Under existing regulation, the primary means of occupant protection for large school buses is a safety concept known as compartmentalization. Compartmentalization protects occupants by using strong, closely spaced seats equipped with high, absorbing seat backs. Compartmentalization provides passive protection, meaning that the protection is there when needed without the need for passengers to take any action such as buckling a seat belt. This system has proven very effective at preventing serious injuries and fatalities for school aged passengers.
Current data collected by NHTSA show that every year, approximately 482,000 public school buses transporting 25.5 million students to and from school and school-related activities
NHTSA published the final rule establishing FMVSS No. 222, “School bus seating and crash protection,” on January 28, 1976 (41 FR 4016). This regulation became effective for all newly manufactured school buses on and after April 1, 1977. In the rulemaking leading to the 1976 final rule, four notices of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) were published.
Since the implementation of their respective State laws, New York (1987), New Jersey (1994) and Florida (2001) have required lap belts, and California (2005) has required lap and shoulder belts, on all newly purchased school buses. NHTSA does not maintain a record of local school districts that also may require seat belts on buses. However, a 1994 University of South Florida (USF) study
In 1987, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reported on a study of forty-three post-standard school bus crashes investigated by the Safety Board.
In laboratory simulations of a severe frontal impact crash, NHTSA determined that adding lap belts on large school buses would have little, if any, benefit in reducing serious-to-fatal injuries in severe frontal crashes, and could raise the potential risk for head injury.
Upon completion of the laboratory simulations, NHTSA issued a press release stating that as a result of research findings, the agency was considering the following changes to the existing Federal safety standards:
• Increasing the seat back height from 508 mm (20 inches) to 610 mm (24 inches) to reduce the potential for passenger override
• Requiring school buses with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 4,536 kg (10,000 pounds) or less to have lap/shoulder restraints. (Currently, seats on these buses must be equipped with lap belts only.)
• Developing standardized test procedures for voluntarily installed lap/shoulder belts.
Subsequently, the agency has developed performance requirements to support a notice of proposed rulemaking that would upgrade the school buses Federal safety standards accordingly.
In July 2002, NAS published Special Report 269, “The Relative Risks of School Travel: A National Perspective and Guidance for Local Community Risk Assessment, National Research Council.”
There is continuing public interest and discussion of on whether seat belts should be required on large school buses. NHTSA is having this public meeting to discuss the safety, policy and economic issues associated with the use of seat belts in large school buses. The meeting will bring together State and local government policy makers, industry associations, school bus and equipment manufacturers, consumer advocates, and school transportation providers.
The meeting will be open to the public, but participation in the panels will be by invitation only. Time will be designated for open floor discussion by the general audience. Meeting participants and the public are also invited to submit comments on this issue to the docket.
The sections below describe the panels for the roundtable meeting.
The meeting will be open to the public with advanced registration for seating on a space-available basis. Individuals wishing to register to assure a seat in the public seating area should provide their name, affiliation, phone number and e-mail address to Ms. Fitzgerald using the contact information at the beginning of this notice. Should it be necessary to cancel the meeting due to an emergency or some other reason, NHTSA will take all available means to notify registered participants by e-mail or telephone.
The meeting will be held at a site accessible to individuals with disabilities. Individuals who require accommodations such as sign language interpreters should contact Ms. Fitzgerald by June 30, 2007.
A transcript of the meeting and other information received by NHTSA at the meeting will be placed in the docket for this notice at a later date.
It is not necessary to attend or to speak at the public meeting to be able to comment on the issues. NHTSA invites readers to submit written comments which the agency will consider in its deliberations on seat belts on school buses.
Your comments must be written and in English. To ensure that your comments are correctly filed in the Docket, please include the docket number of this document in your comments.
Your primary comments must not be more than 15 pages long (49 CFR 553.21). However, you may attach additional documents to your primary comments. There is no limit on the length of the attachments.
Anyone is able to search the electronic form of all comments received into any of our dockets by the name of the individual submitting the comment (or signing the comment, if submitted on behalf of an association, business, labor union, etc.). You may review DOT's complete Privacy Act Statement in the
If you wish Docket Management to notify you upon its receipt of your comments, enclose a self-addressed, stamped postcard in the envelope containing your comments. Upon receiving your comments, Docket Management will return the postcard by mail.
If you wish to submit any information under a claim of confidentiality, send three copies of your complete submission, including the information you claim to be confidential business information, to the Chief Counsel, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 1200 New Jersey Ave., SE., Washington, DC 20590. Include a cover letter supplying the information specified in our confidential business information regulation (49 CFR part 512).
In addition, send two copies from which you have deleted the claimed confidential business information to Docket Management, 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE., West Building, Room W12-140, Washington, DC 20590, or submit them electronically, in the manner described at the beginning of this notice.
We will consider all comments that Docket Management receives before the close of business on the comment closing date indicated above under
Please note that even after the comment closing date, we will continue to file relevant information in the docket as it becomes available. Further, some people may submit late comments. Accordingly, we recommend that you periodically check the docket for new material.
You may read the comments by visiting Docket Management in person at 1200 New Jersey Ave., SE., West Building, Room W12-140, Washington, DC from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
You may also see the comments on the Internet by taking the following steps:
Go to the Docket Management System (DMS) Web page of the Department of Transportation(
49 U.S.C. 30111, 30168; delegation of authority at 49 CFR 1.50 and 501.8.