NHTSA Announces Penalties for Selling Vans as School Buses

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) today announced that it has completed its first group of investigations into vehicle dealers who illegally sold or leased vans that were used as school buses.

“Our motivation in pursuing these investigations is to assure that school children ride on the safest form of transportation on American roads — the school bus,” said NHTSA Administrator Ricardo Martinez, M.D.

Concerned about the use of large vans for carrying students, NHTSA two years ago sought the assistance of school transportation officials in providing investigative leads on illegal sales or leases. NHTSA has completed investigations and assessed civil penalties against 10 dealers.

Federal law provides that school buses are the only vehicles with a capacity of more than 10 passengers that can be manufactured, sold or leased for transporting students to and from school and related events. The law applies to the sale or lease of new vehicles.

According to NHTSA, illegal sales of vans for pupil transportation raise a risk to school children because vans are not required to have the same protective seats, emergency exits, special mirrors, vehicle structure, and fuel systems as school buses. Vans also do not have traffic control devices such as flashing lights and stop arms. School bus drivers also must hold a commercial driver’s license.

NHTSA officials said they, along with school transportation officials, remain committed to investigating illegal sales or leases of vans that are used in pupil transportation. Anyone wishing to report a suspected illegal sale or lease of a van used for school transportation can do so by calling the Auto Safety Hotline at 1-800-424-9393.