U.S. Bus Corporation; Denial of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance, 23890-23891 [E7-8200]


[Federal Register Volume 72, Number 83 (Tuesday, May 1, 2007)]
[Pages 23890-23891]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E7-8200]

[[Page 23890]]



National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

[Docket No. NHTSA-2006-26282; Notice 2]

U.S. Bus Corporation; Denial of Petition for Decision of 
Inconsequential Noncompliance

    U.S. Bus Corporation (U.S. Bus) has determined that certain school 
buses that it produced from 1998 through 2006 do not comply with 
paragraph S9.3(c) of 49 CFR 571.111, Federal Motor Vehicle Safety 
Standard (FMVSS) No. 111, Rearview Mirrors. As explained below, the 
noncompliance involves placement of a required label on school buses 
with cross view mirrors. U.S. Bus has filed an appropriate report 
pursuant to 49 CFR part 573, ``Defect and Noncompliance Responsibility 
and Reports.'' Pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 30118(d) and 30120(h), U.S. Bus 
also has petitioned for a determination that this noncompliance is 
inconsequential to motor vehicle safety. Notice of receipt of the 
petition was published, with a 30-day public comment period, on 
December 13, 2006 in the Federal Register (71 FR 74996). NHTSA received 
no comments on the petition. To view the petition and all supporting 
documents, go to: https://dms.dot.gov/search/searchFormSimple.cfm and 
enter Docket No. NHTSA-2006-26282.
    Affected are a total of approximately 4,019 Universe and Sturdibus 
model school buses produced by U.S. Bus from 1998 through October 23, 
2006 that do not meet the requirements of paragraph S9.3(c) of the 
standard. Specifically, paragraph S9.3(c) of FMVSS No. 111 requires 

    Each school bus which has a mirror installed in compliance with 
S9.3(a) that has an average radius of curvature of less than 889 mm, 
as determined under S12, shall have a label visible to the seated 
driver. . . . The label shall state the following: ``USE CROSS VIEW 

    On the noncompliant buses, the required label is affixed in a 
location behind the interior rearview mirror (used to observe vehicle 
occupants), thereby obscuring the label from view.
    As discussed in its petition, U.S. Bus argued that the 
noncompliance is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety and that no 
corrective action is warranted. U.S. Bus based its conclusion on the 
following reasoning:

    1. The decal in question is required only on school buses; 2. 
The crossview mirrors requiring the decal are only required on 
school buses; 3. School bus drivers are thoroughly trained in 
driving a school bus, including proper adjustment and viewing images 
through both the rearview and crossview mirrors; 4. The placement of 
the decal has no effect on the safety or reliability of the vehicle; 
5. The placement of the decal may or may not be visible from the 
driver's seated position, and depends upon the adjustment of the 
rearview mirror as to whether the decal is visible by the driver.

NHTSA Decision

    In reaching our decision, NHTSA has carefully reviewed the subject 
petition, as well as a similar petition which was submitted to NHTSA in 
2005 by another school bus manufacturer, Les Entreprises Corbeil, Inc. 
(Corbeil). To view the Corbeil petition and all supporting documents, 
go to: Docket No. NHTSA-2006-20923. The following explains our 
    As part of its reasoning, U.S. Bus asserted that because cross view 
mirrors and the associated warning label are only required on school 
buses, the noncompliance is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety and 
no corrective action is warranted. NHTSA does not understand or agree 
with this line of reasoning. School buses are regulated as a special 
vehicle type because they have a unique usage to transport large 
numbers of school-aged children to and from school and other 
activities. School buses are equipped with cross view mirrors primarily 
for the purpose of allowing the driver, prior to moving a bus, to 
observe pedestrians who have entered the zone in front of and on the 
sides of the bus where the driver has limited direct line-of-sight. 
Thus, cross view mirrors and the label describing their use are 
critical to the safety of these students who may not be visible to the 
    U.S. Bus also stated that placement of the label has no effect on 
the safety of the vehicle and that school bus drivers are thoroughly 
trained in driving school buses, including the proper adjustment of and 
viewing images in both rearview and cross view mirror systems. NHTSA 
does not agree that driver training can replace the need for proper 
placement of the warning label. The label must be visible because it 
serves dual purposes, both of which are safety-related: (1) To inform 
the driver to use the cross view mirrors to view pedestrians while the 
bus is stopped, and (2) to remind the driver that the cross view 
mirrors are not to be used to view traffic while the bus is moving. 
Cross view convex mirrors affect distance perception because objects 
viewed in convex surface mirrors appear smaller (thereby giving the 
appearance of greater distance) than when viewed in flat surface 
mirrors. Furthermore, although NHTSA is aware that both the school bus 
industry and school systems place great importance on driver training, 
the thoroughness and consistency of driver training is not regulated 
and, consequently, may not be the same in all jurisdictions. In 
addition, school bus drivers tend to switch vehicles often, and their 
employment turnover rate is high. Therefore, the label, which is 
intended to be a constant reminder as to the use and limitations of 
cross view mirror systems, is a safety-critical feature, even for 
seasoned drivers.
    U.S. Bus stated that the label in the subject noncompliant buses 
may or may not be visible from the driver's seated position, depending 
on the rear view mirror adjustment. Based on examination of the tested 
non-compliant bus, NHTSA has determined that when the inside mirror is 
properly adjusted to view the seated students the label is obscured for 
drivers of nearly any size.
    In addition, we note the agency's June 2005 decision to grant the 
Corbeil petition, in which case the required cross view mirror warning 
labels for school buses were never installed (see 70 FR 33769 (June 9, 
2005)). However, we would distinguish that case here. NHTSA based its 
Corbeil decision on the fact that the number of non-compliant vehicles 
was relatively small (245 buses), that corrections were made to rectify 
the situation in the future, and that driver training assured that the 
mirrors were used correctly. For U.S. Bus, however, the number of non-
complaint buses is significantly higher at 4,019.
    Lastly, since the Corbeil decision, NHTSA published in the fall of 
2006 a Traffic Safety Facts report titled ``School Transportation-
Related Crashes,'' DOT-HS-810626, which report states that since 1995, 
170 school-age pedestrians (younger than 19) have died in school 
transportation-related crashes. The report also lists the numbers of 
pedestrian fatalities (school-age and other pedestrians) resulting from 
individuals being struck by school vehicles in 2003-2005, as 22, 27 and 
27, respectively. The yearly pedestrian/school vehicle fatalities have 
risen from 16 in 2002 to 27 in 2005. We believe that strict compliance 
with applicable standards can help reverse this upward trend. According 
to an earlier Traffic Safety Facts report (DOT-HS-809770), there were 
32 pedestrian/school vehicle fatalities in 1993. Based upon these 
findings, NHTSA believes that the decline in fatalities during the 

[[Page 23891]]

after 1993 is attributable in part to the amendment to FMVSS No. 111 
(effective in December 1993), which required the areas in front of and 
along the sides of school buses to be viewable by the driver. 
Manufacturers are using cross view mirrors to comply with these 
requirements. We want to ensure that the drivers of these buses receive 
every possible reminder to make proper use of cross view mirrors.
    Since the cross view mirror labels remind school bus drivers of the 
appropriate use of these mirrors, NHTSA has reconsidered its view 
concerning the label and now believes that driver training is not an 
adequate substitute for missing labels or labels that are not visible 
to the seated driver.
    In consideration of the foregoing, NHTSA has decided that U.S. Bus 
has not met its burden of persuasion that the noncompliance described 
is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety. Accordingly, U.S. Bus's 
petition is hereby denied, and the petitioner must notify according to 
49 U.S.C. 30118 and remedy according to 49 U.S.C 30120.

    Authority: 49 U.S.C. 30118, 30120; delegations of authority at 
49 CFR 1.50 and 501.8.

    Issued on: April 24, 2007.
Daniel C. Smith,
Associate Administrator for Enforcement.
[FR Doc. E7-8200 Filed 4-30-07; 8:45 am]
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