Mr. Dennis Seavey
Plus Time New Hampshire
160 Dover Road, Suite One
Chichester, NH 93234
Dear Mr. Seavey:
This responds to your letter asking about our August 8, 1998, interpretation to Mr. Terry L. Voy, School Transportation Consultant for the Iowa Department of Education, concerning our school bus regulations.
In the letter to Mr. Voy, we explained that persons selling a new bus to a daycare facility must sell a "school bus" if the bus will be significantly used to transport school children to or from school or related events. As to whether a bus is "used significantly" for such use, we told Mr. Voy that regular use of a bus to pick up students from school five days a week would constitute "significant use" as a school bus. We also stated in that letter that "regular use on alternate days would be 'significant.'"
You ask about the latter statement, as to whether transporting school-aged children to and/or from a child care facility and school three days a week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) constitutes "significant use" as a school bus. You also ask if we would consider the bus to be "significantly" used for school transportation if it were used to take children to and/or from school on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Our answer is that regular use of the vehicle to transport school children to or from school on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, or on Tuesdays and Thursdays, is "significant use" of the vehicle for school transportation. We would also consider transportation provided to or from school on any two days during a week to be regular use and therefore "significant."
As you are aware, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) safety standards directly regulate the manufacture and sale of new motor vehicles, not their use. Each state has the authority to set its own standards regarding use of motor vehicles, including school buses. Please check with the appropriate New Hampshire officials to see if any State law regulates how New Hampshire school children must be transported between their school and after school programs. For information on New Hampshire's requirements, you may contact New Hampshire's State Director of Pupil Transportation:
Ms. Bethia LaMarca, Pupil Transportation Supervisor
New Hampshire Department of Safety
10 Hazen Drive
Concord, NH 03305
Telephone: (603) 271-1999
In closing, we wish to emphasize that school buses are one of the safest forms of transportation in this country, and that we therefore strongly recommend that all buses that are used to transport school children be certified as meeting NHTSA's school bus safety standards. Further, using 15-person vans that do not meet NHTSA's school bus standards to transport students could result in increased liability in the event of a crash. Since such liability would be determined by State law, you may wish to consult with your attorney and insurance carrier for advice on this issue.
I hope this information is helpful. I am enclosing NHTSA's publication: "School Bus Safety: Safe Passage for America's Children" that describes the safety features of a school bus. I am also enclosing NHTSA's February 1999 "Guideline for the Safe Transportation of Pre-school Age Children in School Buses." If you have any further questions please feel free to contact Dorothy Nakama of my staff at this address or by telephone at (202) 366-2992.
Frank Seales, Jr.