USING THE DOCUMENT
and guiding principles have a vital role in the development of the specifications
for school buses and procedures for their operation. These objectives and guiding
principles have been reaffirmed and emphasized at the National Congressess since
1939. The two major objectives, safety and efficiency, along with the guiding
principles stated herein, have served as guideposts for making decisions regarding
the specifications and procedures and in arriving at sound and common agreement.
state and federal regulations governing school bus specifications and operation
provide two key ingredients for the safe, comfortable and efficient transportation
of pupils. Safety includes all factors relating to school bus equipment, performance
specifications and operational procedures that may directly or indirectly affect
the safety and welfare of pupils transported.
includes the management of specifications, procurement and maintenance of school
buses, the operational practices and procedures of staff consistent with the safety
and welfare of pupils and the effective use of financial resources.
Federal standards and state specifications for school buses and procedures for
their operation should:
- Be consistent with the
objectives of safety and efficiency;
- Ensure the construction and use of safe buses;
- Reduce conflicting specifications and procedures among states wherever possible;
exact dimensions where necessary to increase the quality and efficiency of manufacture.
Any adaptation of these national specifications and procedures should be made
by states only in order to adjust to local needs and only when such adaptations
- Conflict with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS);
- Conflict with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Highway Safety
Guideline #17 - Pupil
Transportation Safety; and
- Unduly increase operation or production costs.
State specifications for school buses and operational procedures should be written
in terms of the performance desired, thus assuring that the resulting state regulations
Provisions should be made within each state for periodic review and revision of
its specifications for school buses and procedures for their operation.
State specifications for school buses and procedures for their operation should
allow for state approval of the use of new inventions and improvements that are
consistent with safety and efficiency.
State specifications for school buses should provide for a degree of flexibility
(consistent with safety and efficiency) to accommodate the various manufacturers.
State specifications for school buses should recognize that the actual design
of school buses is a responsibility of the manufacturers..
The current National School Transportation Specifications and Procedures are considered
as recommendations to the states. Revisions of these specifications and procedures
are made only when evidence indicates that such revisions are needed.
specifications for school buses and procedures for operation are available for
states to consider when establishing their standards, specifications, recommendations,
and guidelines. As a general rule, state legislatures should confer upon the appropriate
state agency or regulatory body the general responsibility for setting up statewide
rules and regulations regarding the specifications for school bus chassis, bodies
and equipment and the procedures for school transportation operations.
specifications and procedures for school transportation appearing in this report
represent the official actions of the delegates to the 13th National Congress
on School Transportation and comprise recommendations to regulatory authorities
or other parties. Except for restatements of federal standards, laws and rules
that may be contained herein, these recommendations are not regulatory until they
are officially adopted by the appropriate state regulatory authority to become
legally effective within that state. It should be noted that some items in this
report are informational only and do not constitute "recommendations"
of the delegates.
considering these specifications and procedures for adoption into state regulations,
each portion or individual content item should be reviewed by the state to determine
its applicability, as recommended by the delegates. The following terms are used
throughout this document to define the recommended applicability within states
adopting these specifications and procedures:
SHALL - a mandatory condition. Where certain school bus designs, equipment or
operations are described with the "shall" stipulation, it is mandatory
that all school buses and all school bus operations meet those requirements as
Note: The word "shall" also is used when referring
to items that are already adopted into
federal laws, standards, or regulations.
SHOULD - an advisory condition. Where certain school bus designs, equipment or
operations are described with the word "should," such items are considered
to be advisable usage. In other words, the item is recommended, but not mandatory
for all school buses or all school bus operations.
MAY - a permissive condition. Where certain school bus designs, equipment or operations
are described with the word "may," such items are considered for possible
usage. However, there is no intent that the item be required for all school buses
or all school bus operations.
that many of these specifications and procedures (those using the above definition
of "shall") are recommended as requirements and will become requirements
when they are adopted into regulations by individual states, the principles and
guidelines for the intended use of this report are consistent with the following
"Statement of Understanding" adopted by the Steering Committee of the
13th National Congress on School Transportation on July 10, 1999 (for inclusion
herein). In the context of this overall report, the following statement reminds
persons using the report that until these specifications and procedures are adopted
into state regulations, either by reference or directly, adherence to their provisions
purpose of this publication is to serve as a basis for the separate states to
establish specifications, rules, and/or regulations for school transportation
within those states. This publication is representative of the views of professional
practitioners from the states represented at the 13th National Congress on School
Transportation. Its emphasis on practices, procedures, and performance encompasses
school transportation in total and includes guidelines for school buses and school
bus operations. The material contained herein will provide useful guidance for
school transportation specialists in each state; however, it does not establish
specifications or standards for any state. Use of this publication in part or
in its entirety is completely voluntary.