S:\cpscenter.wlh\handouts-materials\nc laws\buses

S:\cpscenter.wlh\handouts-materials\nc laws\buses
Requirements and Recommendations for the
Transportation of Children by Schools, Child Care
Centers and other Organizations in North Carolina
Basic Provisions of NC’s Occupant Restraint (OR) Laws:
• All drivers and passengers must be buckled up in either the front or back
seat of any vehicle required by federal standards to be equipped with
seat belts (as of December 1, 2006).
Basic Types of
• Drivers are legally responsible for all children and youth Restraints
less than age 16 in the vehicle. Passengers 16 and
older are responsible for themselves.
• A child who is younger than age 8 AND who weighs
less than 80 pounds must be properly secured in a child
passenger restraint device (CRD) or booster seat.
Rear-facing Only
• When a child reaches age 8 (regardless of weight) OR
80 pounds (regardless of age), a properly fitted seat belt
may be used.
• A child who weighs at least 40 pounds may be
restrained by a properly fitted lap-belt-only if no seating
position equipped with a lap and shoulder belt is
Rear-facing
available. All lap and shoulder belt positions must be
Convertible
occupied before the lap-only seat belt is allowed.
No type of organization is exempt from the NC OR
Laws, only types of vehicles. In addition, some programs
may be subject to additional state and/or federal regulations
as noted below.
WARNING: Belt-positioning booster seats must
NEVER be used with just a lap belt.
Belt-positioning booster seats can only be used
with lap and shoulder seat belts.
Transporting Children in 15-Passenger Vans
15-passenger vans are required to have seat belts in all
seating positions and are covered under the NC Child
Passenger Safety Law. Organizations using vans or other
passenger vehicles to transport children must comply with
all provisions of the NC CPS law. Some programs,
however, may be subject to additional state, federal, or
program-specific regulations that prohibit the use of vans
for transporting children unless they are built to school bus
standards. (See “Additional State and Federal
Regulations.”)
Older models of vans may have lap-belt-only seat belts in
all rear seats. In this case, children less than 40 pounds in
weight are required to be in a CRD with a harness.
Children weighing at least 40 pounds can be in just the lap
belt without a booster seat, but using CRs with higher
weight limit harnesses (more than 40 pounds) is better.
Front-facing
Convertible
Belt Positioning
Booster
Lap and
Shoulder Belt
Lap Belt
with Harness
Images courtesy of
Childrens’ Hospital of Philadelphia
UNC Highway Safety Research Center - www.buckleupnc.org
Some rear seat positions in newer vans are equipped with lap and shoulder
combination belts. If this is the case:
1. Place children less than 40 pounds in child restraints with harnesses and
install these restraints in lap-belt-only positions or, if possible, use higher
weight harness CRs with children over 40 pounds in lap only positions.
2. Place children who are at least 8 years old OR weigh at least 80 pounds
in properly fitted lap and shoulder seat belts. Shoulder belts tucked
under the arm or placed behind the back are ILLEGAL and UNSAFE.
3. Place children less than age 8 AND less than 80 pounds in remaining
lap and shoulder belt positions in belt positioning boosters.
4. Place any additional children who are at least 40 pounds in any
remaining lap-belt-only positions using just the lap belt. DO NOT use
belt-positioning booster seats in the lap-belt-only positions.
Transporting Children in School Buses
Federal standards do not require seat belts, except for the driver, on large
buses with Gross Vehicle Weight Ratings (GVWR) of more than 10,000
pounds. School buses rely on strong, closely spaced, well-padded, energy
absorbing seats and higher seat backs to "compartmentalize" and protect
passengers during a crash. The size and construction of school buses as
well as compartmentalization make them very safe vehicles.
Large buses are exempt from the NC CPS Law since they are not required
to have seat belts for passengers. This exemption includes large school
and activity buses as well as municipal transit and charter buses.
Organizations that provide transportation on large buses do not have to
install seat belts and use child restraints for the children being transported
in order to comply with this law unless the organization is subject to
additional standards and regulations. (See “Additional State and Federal
Regulations.”)
Seat belts are required in all positions on small buses that weigh 10,000
pounds or less. Some school buses fit into this category. Children being
transported in these smaller buses are covered under the NC CPS law.
Most of the seat belts on these smaller buses are lap-belt-only seat belts.
Children less than 40 pounds in weight are required to be in a child
restraint appropriate for their weight. Children who weigh 40 pounds or
WARNING: Belt-positioning booster seats must NEVER be used
with just a lap belt. Belt-positioning booster seats can only be
used with lap and shoulder seat belts.
more can be restrained by just the lap belt without a booster seat.
Operators of smaller buses (under 10,000 lbs) required to have seat belts
are subject to the NC CPS law and must comply. Note that most seat belts
on school buses, even the smaller buses, are lap-belt-only seat belts that
may not be used with belt positioning boosters. Refer to “Summary of
Requirements to comply with the NC CPS Law and Recommendations for
Maximum Safety in ANY VEHICLE” for recommendations.
Revised: June 2013
Transportation of Children by Schools, Child Care Centers and other Organizations in NC
Recommendations for Transporting Pre-School Children on School
Buses
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) believes, and
research confirms, that school buses are one of the safest forms of
transportation in this country. Therefore NHTSA strongly recommends that
all buses used to transport pre-school and school children be certified as
meeting NHTSA's school bus safety standards. Using vans that do not
meet the school bus standards to transport students could result in
increased liability in the event of a crash.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) further
recommends that preschool age children are best transported in child
restraints even on the larger school buses. If it is determined that a child
must be transported in a child restraint on a bus, the NHTSA “Guidelines
for the Safe Transportation of Preschool Age Children in School Buses”
(February, 1999) should be followed. These guidelines are available on
www.buckleupnc.org.
An additional resource is the “Guide for the Transportation of Preschoolers
and Children with Disabilities for North Carolina Public Schools:
Transportation Policies, Guidelines, and Best Practices,” also available on
www.buckleupnc.org.
Additional State and Federal Regulations
While federal regulations do not prohibit the use of vans by schools, they
do require that new vans with a capacity of more than 10 persons
purchased or leased with the intent to transport children to or from school
or school events to meet the same safety standards applicable to school
buses.
Head Start regulations require that children weighing 50 pounds or less
must be restrained in height- and weight-appropriate child restraints.
Programs transporting children to and from Head Start and Early Head
Start programs must use school buses or “allowable alternate vehicles” by
January 2006.
An “allowable alternate vehicle” is a vehicle designed for carrying eleven or
more people, including the driver, that meets all the Federal Motor Vehicle
Safety Standards applicable to school buses except those related to
flashing lights and stop arms. Vans that do not meet the school bus
standards are prohibited. Head Start transportation regulations are available
on www.buckleupnc.org.
North Carolina Child Care Transportation standard NCAC 09 .1001 covers
NC child care centers and requires that all children less than 2 years of age
to be transported in a child restraint, even on buses. Thus, child care
centers transporting children less than age 2 on buses may need to retrofit
the bus with belts in order to use child restraints for these children.
Transportation standards for NC child care centers are available on
www.buckleupnc.org.
For further information contact:
UNC Highway Safety Research Center
800-672-4527 / 919-962-2202
www.buckleupnc.org
www.hsrc.unc.edu
Page 2
Summary of NC Restraint Requirements for Vehicle Types
< No types of organizations are exempt from the NC Child Passenger
Safety (CPS) and Seat Belt laws, only types of vehicles.
< Buses weighing more than 10,000 pounds:
• Are not required by Federal Standards to be equipped with seat
belts, except for the driver, and are exempt from the NC CPS law.
• Organizations that provide transportation on buses >10,000 pounds
do not have to restrain children in seat belts or child restraints to
comply with NC law.
• Organizations that provide transportation on large buses may be
required to restrain children in seat belts or child restraints to comply
with applicable state, federal or program-specific regulations.
< Buses weighing under 10,000 pounds:
• Are required to have seat belts in all seating positions.
• Organizations that provide transportation on smaller buses are
subject to and must comply with the NC CPS and Seat Belt laws.
< Vans and mini-vans:
• Organizations that provide transportation on vans of any size are
subject to and must comply with the NC CPS and Seat Belt laws.
Summary of Requirements to comply with the NC CPS Law and
Recommendations for Maximum Safety in ANY VEHICLE:
< In positions equipped with lap and shoulder seat belts, restrain children:
• In properly installed child restraints with harnesses if they weigh less
than 40 pounds.
• In belt positioning booster seats if they are both less than eight years
old and weigh less than 80 pounds.
• In properly fitted lap and shoulder belt if they are at least eight years
old or if they weigh at least 80 pounds.
• RECOMMENDATION: Continue to use booster seats until both the
lap and shoulder belts fit correctly on the child.
< In positions equipped with just lap belts, and if there are no lap and
shoulder belted positions available, restrain children:
• In properly installed child restraints with harnesses if they weigh less
than 40 pounds.
• In properly fitted lap-only seat belts if they weigh 40 pounds or more.
• RECOMMENDATION: Children over 40 pounds should be
restrained by options other than just the lap belt if possible. These
options may require additional installation in vehicles because they
are anchored with top tether straps in addition to seat belts.
Recommended options for children over 40 pounds in lap-belt-only
positions include:
B There are many models of restraints with harnesses that can be
used for children heavier than 40 lbs. And should be used when
possible.
B There are harnesses of various types that can be used for children
over 40 pounds (example: E-Z-On Products).
B Check with the manufacturer to see if retrofit shoulder belt kits are
available for some older models of cars and vans.
For further information or to order brochures or other educational materials, contact:
NC Governor's Highway Safety Program
NC Department of Insurance
NC Safe Kids Buckle Up
919-733-3083
888-347-3737 / 919-661-5880
www.ncdot.org/programs/GHSP
www.ncsafekids.org
UNC Highway Safety Research Center - www.buckleupnc.org
Revised: June 2013
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