The United States Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has defined a new subcategory of school buses for use in transporting children in trips other than to and from school.
NHTSA's new subcategory, the “multifunction school activity bus (MFSAB)” is defined as a vehicle sold for purposes that do not include transportation between home and school for students from kindergarten through grade 12. Accordingly, these multifunction buses will be exempt from requirements for traffic control equipment requirements when the rule takes effect at the end of August 2003.
This new class of vehicles should serve as a safe choice for companies and institutions that have a need to transport groups of people. A particular safety benefit exists for transporting 12 to 15 passengers, since school buses have a better safety record than 15-passenger vans for this purpose.
Under current federal law, dealers cannot sell a vehicle for the purpose of transporting school-age students to or from school or related events unless it meets all federal motor vehicle safety standards for school buses. Among those requirements are ones requiring all school buses to be equipped with devices designed to control traffic, including flashing lights and stop arms.
The new multi-function buses will be exempt from the traffic control requirements since they are not intended to be used for picking up or discharging students on public roadways. However, the new multi-function buses are required to meet all other school bus safety standards.