James Freiburger, Senior Staff Engineer
Thomas Built Buses, Inc.
1408 Courtesy Road
High Point, NC 27260
Dear Mr. Freiburger:
This responds to your request for an interpretation of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 205, Glazing Materials, regarding a requirement that in school buses, exposed edges shall be banded.
You state that you manufacture a school bus that has bonded in place glass panels that do not open in locations that include the windshield, panels in the drivers area, doors and rear stationary glass. You ask whether the glass panel edge must be banded even when the edge is not exposed to the seated school bus passengers. Second, you ask whether glass used in the passenger and driver windows that is encased in the windows frame work would satisfy the banding requirement.
FMVSS No. 205 has incorporated by reference American National Standard for Safety Glazing Materials for Glazing Motor Vehicles and Motor Vehicle Equipment Operating on Land Highways-Safety Standard (ANSI/SAE Z26.1-1996). Section 6, Edges, of ANSI/SAE Z26.1-1996 states:
In vehicles except school buses, exposed edges shall be treated in accordance with SAE J673 Automotive Safety Glazing. In school buses, exposed edges shall be banded.
Your first question asks whether the bonded in place glass panels must be banded. The photographs you enclosed are difficult to see clearly, but it appears that the bonded in
place glass panels are attached to the window frame without encasing the edges of the glass within the frame. It appears that the glass is made to adhere to the frame and that there are one or more edges of the glass that are exposed on the exterior of the bus.
You believe that the answer to the first question is no, that exposed edges in ANSI/SAE Z26.1-1996 refers to edges exposed to the seated school bus passengers. We do not agree. Nothing in Section 6 of ANSI/SAE Z26.1-1996, or any other part of FMVSS No. 205, limits the banding requirement only to edges exposed to seated school bus passengers. Moreover, if we were to read Section 6 as you suggest, an implication could be that exposed edges of the glass on the exterior of the bus need not be treated at all, which would seem to raise the possibility of the edges posing an unreasonable risk of laceration. There could also be different safety risks in post-crash situations depending on whether the exposed edges are banded. Because of these issues, we cannot, by interpretation, apply the banding requirement only to edges that are exposed to seated school bus occupants, or only to windows that can be opened.
Your second question related to school bus glazing encased in the windows frame work. You ask if encasing the windows in the frame work would be considered banded. Our answer is that, if all edges of the window were encased in the window frame, there would be no exposed edges and thus no need for banding.
Finally, you also raised the issue of whether a State can change the FMVSS requirement because the State believes they are requiring a higher level of safety, or if the State must accept a bus built to FMVSS requirements. The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act generally states that (49 U.S.C. 30103(b)(1)) when a Federal motor vehicle safety standard is in effect, a State may prescribe or continue in effect a standard applicable to the same aspect of performance as that Federal standard only if the standard is identical to the Federal standard; however, a State may prescribe a standard for a motor vehicle obtained for the States own use that imposes a higher performance requirement than that required by the otherwise applicable FMVSS. We cannot answer your specific question without more information about the State law at issue and the vehicles to which the State standard applies.
I hope this information is helpful. If you have any further questions, please contact Ms. Dorothy Nakama at this address or at (202) 366-2992.
Anthony M. Cooke
 Your photographs appear to show a windshield (Picture number 1); glass panels to the right of the front door (Picture number 2); triangular glazing to the left of the drivers side window (Picture number 3); glass panels on either side of the emergency exit door (Picture number 4); and a rear view of the bus showing pieces of glazing in the rear emergency exit door (Picture number 5). All photos appear to show the glazing bonded to the frame in a manner that does not encase the glazing in the frame.