Mr. Cesar Robles Gonzales
P.O. Box 3000
White Deer, PA 17887
Dear Mr. Gonzales:
This is in response to your request regarding seat belts for buses. Specifically, you are interested in seat belt requirements for charter and other buses operated by private bus lines.
By way of background information, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is authorized under Title 49, Chapter 301 of the U.S. Code to issue Federal motor vehicle safety standards that apply to the manufacture and sale of new motor vehicles and new items of motor vehicle equipment. Chapter 301 prohibits any person from manufacturing, introducing into commerce, selling, or importing any new motor vehicle or item of motor vehicle equipment unless the vehicle or equipment item is in conformity with all applicable safety standards.
Large buses, those with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR)over 10,000 pounds, are not required to have seat belts for occupants other than the driver. Standard No. 208, Occupant Crash Protection (49 CFR 571.208) sets forth the crash protection requirements applicable to most vehicle types. Section S4.4 of that standard sets forth the requirements applicable to large buses other than school buses. That section requires large buses to have either a complete automatic protection system for the bus driver's seating position, or a seat belt assembly that conforms with Standard No. 209 at the driver's seating position. Standard No. 208 does not specify any requirements for either an automatic protection system or seat belt assemblies to be installed at any other seating positions in large buses.
I hope this information is helpful.
Acting Chief Counsel