Government Accountability Office Issues Report on School Bus Safety

Last week, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report on school bus safety.

The report found that school buses transport over 26 million students to school and other activities each day. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has reported that school buses are the safest means of getting children to and from school and school-related activities. School buses have a strong safety record, however, school bus crashes still occur and are often high-profile, since they involve precious cargo - our nation's schoolchildren.

Federal laws and regulations establish minimum requirements for school bus safety. All fifty states require school bus inspections, and most states also require driver training. Federal regulations for school bus vehicle standards and driver licensing apply to both school districts and contractors. The Department of Transportation has reported that new school buses must meet more Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards than any other type of new motor vehicle.

Federal safety regulations for commercial motor vehicle operations apply in certain cases, such as for contractors hired by schools to provide transportation for extracurricular activities across state lines. Based on a search of state laws and regulations, GAO found that all 50 states require school bus inspections while most states - GAO found 44 - require refresher training for school bus drivers. However, GAO found that less than a quarter of states set specific requirements for the maximum age and seating capacity of school buses. Overall, states’ requirements vary by state for school bus inspections, driver training, and vehicles but tend not to differ based on the type of operator.

The entire 51 page report is available here.