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NHTSA under pressure to revisit seatbelt rule on school buses

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  • Lori
    Questions to Liability Protection of Restraint Systems in Small Bus-Only Rule (Jan. 6, 2008) - The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is being
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 8, 2009
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      Questions to Liability Protection of Restraint Systems in Small Bus-Only
      Rule

      (Jan. 6, 2008) - The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is being
      urged to take a second look at its final rule on school bus occupant
      protection, a number of last-minute petitions against the rule indicate.

      The final rule published in October requires lap/shoulder belts on small
      buses and establishes performance standards for seat belts voluntarily
      installed on large buses. Under the rule, all buses must also have
      24-inch-high seat backs and self-latching mechanisms on seat bottom
      cushions.

      In one petition for reconsideration, the American Association of Justice, a
      national trial lawyer's group, argued that the rule offers too great of
      protection for manufacturers against liability.

      "NHTSA continues to allow corporate responsibility to take a back seat to
      children's safety," said AAJ President Les Weisbrod in a statement.

      Public Citizen also recently criticized the rule. In its petition, the
      consumer advocacy organization objected to the fact that the seat belt
      requirement does not extend to large buses.

      "This attempt by the agency to punt this issue violates its safety
      obligations under the law and is an obvious effort to assist school bus
      manufacturers," Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook wrote in a letter to
      NHTSA.

      Like AAJ, the group wants NHTSA to eliminate a provision that limits how
      manufacturers can be sued. The group also asked NHTSA to examine side-impact
      and rollover crashes, something that is currently on the National
      Transportation Safety Board's most wanted list of safety items for 2009.

      Others petitioning against the rule include bus builder Blue Bird, seat
      manufacturer M2K and a child safety technician, though the petitions
      appeared to be more concerned with several technical aspects of the
      standard.

      http://www.stnonline.com/artman/publish/article_8798.shtml
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