Ms. Rita Cola Carroll
Chairperson, Bus Safety Committee
Great Valley School District
275 W. Central Avenue
Paoli, PA 19301

Dear Ms. Carroll:

This responds to your question whether a child sitting on a school bus seat with part of his body extending into the aisle, is afforded the compartmentalization protection of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 222, School bus passenger seating and crash protection.

We have addressed this issue in an October 26, 1994, letter to Ms. Debra Platt of Stuart, Florida, and have enclosed a copy of our response for your information. In the Platt letter, NHTSA agrees that it is far less safe for children to sit on the edge of school bus seats, rather than face forward. We are enclosing a copy of Highway Safety Program Guideline No. 17, Pupil Transportation Safety, which is referenced in the Platt letter. Guideline 17 uses specific wording with regard to seating of school children. It says: "Seating should be provided that will permit each occupant to sit in a seat intended by the vehicle's manufacturer to provide accommodation for a person at least as large as a 5th percentile adult female, as defined in 49 CFR 571.208."

We are also enclosing a copy of a report prepared by this agency entitled School Bus Safety Report, and a copy of a Report Summary prepared by the Transportation Research Board in May 1989. The latter two reports give a good overview of school bus safety issues, and they and Guideline 17 contain recommendations to the various states in developing their own pupil transportation safety programs.

As noted in the Platt letter, since the States regulate school bus use, we recommend that you contact your State and/or local pupil transportation or school officials to inform them of your concerns. The Pennsylvania Governor's highway safety representative is:

Mr. Michael Ryan Governor's Highway Safety Representative Deputy Secretary Highway Safety Administration Commonwealth of Pennsylvania 1220 Transportation & Safety Building Harrisburg, PA 17120 Telephone: (717) 787-6815

I hope the enclosed information is helpful to you. Should you have any other questions or need additional information, please feel free to contact Dorothy Nakama of my staff at this address or at (202) 366-2992.


Samuel J. Dubbin Chief Counsel

Enclosures ref:222 d:11/21/95