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Do bus drivers have to wear seat belts?

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Question: Some of us school bus drivers were talking the other day and one claims that a new law will allow us drivers to not have to use the seat belt. When did this law change?

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Answer: First answer here is, this law did not change and yes you are still required to use your seat belt. There was a change that pertains to school buses in the child restraint law. I believe this change will clarify what types of vehicles are and are not exempt from the requirements to have child safety seats in use.

Minnesota statute 169.685 covers our child restraint requirements and according to subdivision 6 the requirement for child safety seats does not apply to; then under clause (a) (4) a person while operating a school bus; and (5) a person while operating a type III vehicle described in section 169.011, subdivision 71, paragraph (h), if the vehicle meets the seating and crash protection requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 222, Code of Federal Regulations, title 49, part 571.

In simple terms what these safety standards and Federal regulations are saying is that if the vehicle meets the compartmentalization concept then child safety seats are not required. OK so let's translate that so we can understand the meaning. School buses are built to specifications that require seats to be placed to meet specific conditions. When this is done there is a small area that the child is in. This small area or compartment has shown to protect school bus occupants very well in frontal collisions. This process is known, by those in the passenger safety field, as "compartmentalization."

According to 169.011 sb 71 paragraph (h) A "type III vehicle" is restricted to passenger cars, station wagons, vans, and buses having a maximum manufacturer's rated seating capacity of ten or fewer people, including the driver, and a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or less. A 'type III vehicle' must not be outwardly equipped and identified as a type A, B, C, or D school bus or type A, B, C, or D Head Start bus. A van or bus converted to a seating capacity of ten or fewer and placed in service on or after August 1, 1999, must have been originally manufactured to comply with the passenger safety standards. Basically these are regular type vehicles such as vans, mini-vans, suburbans or station wagons. Since these types of vehicles do not meet the "compartmentalization" concept within the Federal requirements, these vehicles are not exempt from child safety seat requirements.

According to the Ted Foss law, when on a multi-lane road and approaching an emergency vehicle stopped on the side, with lights flashing, drivers are required to move over if possible. State Troopers are out there to help and protect you. Please help keep us safer by giving us that room, when safely possible, for our safety. Our families also thank you. If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws in Minnesota send your questions to Trp. Andy Schmidt - Minnesota State Patrol at 1000 Highway 10 West, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501-2205 or reach me at andrew.schmidt@state.mn.us.

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