Tuesday, March 29, 2011

US The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) Position on 15 Passenger Vans

Henrietta Texas Crash Van - NTSB Photo

The following is the NHTSA position on the use of 15 passenger vans:

Use of Nonconforming Vans: New vehicles that carry 11 or more persons that are sold for transporting students to or from school or school related events are required to meet all FMVSSs for school buses. A vehicle is regarded as being sold for use as a school bus if, at the time of sale, it is evident that the vehicle is likely to be significantly used to transport students to or from school or school related events. This applies to school buses sold to public as well as private schools. Thus, a dealer selling a new 12 or 15-passenger van to be used for school transportation must ensure that the van is certified as meeting all school bus FMVSSs.

In addition to investigating and imposing of civil penalties on dealerships that have illegally sold 12-15 passenger vans to schools NHTSA has taken steps to educate the public, pupil transportation industry, and automobile dealerships about the laws governing such sales to school systems.

In October 1995 letters were sent to State Directors of Pupil Transportation and State Automobile Dealers Associations explaining the prohibition on selling to school systems, vehicles that seat 11 or more and do not meet school bus Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Similar letters were sent again in October 1997. At that time letters were also sent to the National PTA and PTA state offices, and the American Automobile Manufacturers Association. Agency staff have also spoken about non-conforming vehicles at many pupil transportation and highway safety conferences.

Henrietta Texas Crash Van - NTSB Photo

Within the past two years, NHTSA has investigated allegations that dealers have violated this requirement. In May 1998, the agency issued a press release announcing the agency had completed investigations into vehicle dealers which illegally sold or leased vans that were used as school buses and obtained civil penalties totaling $14,400 from 10 dealers. The announcement also contained information on how to report a suspected illegal sale or lease of vans that are used in pupil transportation. NHTSA is currently conducting five additional investigations of dealerships reported to have illegally sold vans to school systems. The agency will continue to publicize the safety risks of transporting students in vehicles other than school buses and investigate all violations reported to the agency.

NHTSA strongly recommends that only vehicles meeting Federal school bus safety standards be used to transport school children. Highway Safety Program Guideline 17, Pupil Transportation Safety, specifically recommends that any vehicle designed to carry more than 10 persons and which is used as a school bus comply with all Federal safety standards applicable to school buses at the time the vehicle was manufactured.

Click here to read the rest of this article on Saint Pauls Minnesota Public School website.