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Choosing the Correct School Bus
For Transporting Pre-School Age Children
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A school bus should always be purchased to meet the needs of your current and projected passenger population. Unfortunately, projecting future needs is difficult and the unpredictable often happens. In such instances, you may find yourself needing to retrofit your large school bus with an anchorage system and lap belts.

To add lap belts to a large school bus it is necessary to have seats that are reinforced and designed for use with lap belts. These seats, called “lap-belt-ready” seats, are the only seats capable of being retrofitted properly with lap belts. If there is any chance you may need to add an anchorage system to your school bus seats in the future, you should prepare now by ordering “lap-belt-ready” seats.

If you are facing the possibility of retrofitting lap belts on a large school bus already in your fleet, it is vital to the safety of the students that the retrofitting is done correctly. The following steps must be taken to retrofit lap belts on large school buses correctly:

Seat that is not "lap belt ready"
  • First, and most important, contact the distributor from whom the bus was purchased. If the distributor is no longer in business, contact any distributor of that school bus, or if necessary, contact the manufacturer directly. Only the distributor or manufacturer can determine if it is possible to retrofit lap belts on a school bus safely. If lap belts can be retrofitted, it must be done according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • To determine if the bus is equipped with “lap-belt-ready” seats, the school bus distributor will need the manufacturer’s school bus body number, which is located on the manufacturer’s label posted on the school bus. If the bus is not equipped with “lap-belt-ready” seats, each seat that needs to be equipped with lap belts will have to be replaced with a “lap-belt-ready” seat. The school bus distributor may also be able to provide you with written instructions on how to install the lap belts correctly.
  • All equipment that you add or replace on a school bus should be purchased from a reputable dealer or manufacturer. If you retrofit a school bus with lap belts, NHTSA recommends that you ensure that all anchorages meet the requirements in FMVSS No. 210. Further, all lap belts must meet the requirements in FMVSS No. 209. An easy way to determine if a lap belt meets these requirements is by looking for its certification label. If it is a lap belt designed for motor vehicle use, theLap-belt ready seat (note diagonal support and other supporting structure in seat) certification label will state that it meets all the requirements specified in FMVSS No. 209.
  • It is important to remember not all school buses can be retrofitted safely with lap belts. Also, federal law does not allow school bus manufacturers or distributors to certify that equipment retrofitted on a vehicle meets FMVSSs.
  • Some states have regulations governing the retrofitting of occupant protection systems on school buses. Be sure to contact the agency in your state that regulates motor vehicles to determine all applicable regulations before you start any retrofitting project.

Currently, manufacturers of school buses do not offer retrofitting of universal attachment systems into existing equipment. However, to find out if it will be possible to retrofit a particular model of school bus with the new universal attachment system, contact the school bus manufacturer’s distributor nearest you. It is recommended that all anchorages meet the requirements specified in FMVSS 225.