Eagle County School District RE 50J
P.O. Box 740
Eagle, CO 81631
Dear Ms. Ward:
This responds to your May 2, 1995, letter following up on information provided you by Charles Hott and Leon DeLarm of this agency, concerning the safety of school buses and "over-the-road type coaches" (e.g., Greyhound-type buses). You ask for confirmation that our safety standards for school buses "are above and beyond the requirements for over-the-road coaches."
That statement is correct. Our Federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSSs) apply to vehicles according to vehicle type. We have FMVSSs that apply to "buses," and those that apply to "school buses." Since a "school bus" is a type of "bus" under our regulations, a new school bus must meet the Federal motor vehicle safety standards that apply to "school buses" in addition to those that apply to "buses." A new over-the-road coach would have to meet our "bus" standards, but not our "school bus" standards.
We would like to emphasize the importance that our agency attaches to the use of safe buses to transport children. A school bus meeting the school bus safety standards is the safest means of transportation for school children. It may not be the most comfortable for long trips, since it lacks the reclining seats and restroom facilities of some over-the-road coaches, but it has safety features that the coaches lack, such as seat backs designed to cushion impacts, windows that prevent ejections, and exits that facilitate escape after crashes. In the years since buses began to be manufactured with these features, there has been a marked improvement in school bus safety. We urge schools and school districts to consider these features when making school transportation decisions.
For your information, I am enclosing a pamphlet that gives a brief description of the FMVSSs, and an information sheet that explains how you can obtain copies of our standards.
If you other questions on this or any other issue, please do not hesitate to call Deirdre Fujita of my staff at (202) 366-2992.
John Womack Acting Chief Counsel