One out of every eight First Student school buses failed to meet Minnesota safety standards this year.

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith and Representatives Angie Craig (MN-2), Dean Phillips (MN-3), Betty McCollum (MN-4), Ilhan Omar (MN-5), and Collin Peterson (MN-7) expressed serious concern following recent reports that one out of every eight school buses operated by First Student, Minnesota’s largest school bus provider, failed to meet Minnesota safety standards this year due to serious defects such as unsafe brakes, flat tires, steering issues, and faulty emergency door buzzers. In a letter to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Acting Administrator James Owens, members of the Minnesota delegation requested additional information on what the agency can do to improve its oversight of the maintenance and safety of school buses. 

“NHTSA plays a critical role in ensuring the safety of our students, including the setting of minimum safety standards for school buses and issuing recalls for school buses that do not meet federal requirements. While states regulate how school buses are used, NHTSA also plays an integral part in issuing recommendations for state student transportation safety programs,” the members wrote.

“Minnesota families deserve to know that the school buses that students ride in are safe.”

The full text of the letter can be found HERE and below: 

Dear Acting Administrator Owens:

We write to express our serious concern following recent reports revealing the use of school buses with safety defects to transport Minnesota students and to request additional information on what the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) can do to improve its oversight of the maintenance and safety of school buses.

First Student is the largest school bus provider in Minnesota with over one thousand school buses. According to the latest inspection data from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, one out of every eight First Student school buses failed to meet Minnesota safety standards this year due to serious defects such as unsafe brakes, flat tires, steering issues, and faulty emergency door buzzers. In addition, despite the fact that First Student received advance notice of inspections, some First Student school buses were required to obtain further repairs within two weeks of inspections.

NHTSA plays a critical role in ensuring the safety of our students, including the setting of minimum safety standards for school buses and issuing recalls for school buses that do not meet federal requirements. While states regulate how school buses are used, NHTSA also plays an integral part in issuing recommendations for state student transportation safety programs.

Minnesota families deserve to know that the school buses that students ride in are safe. In light of the concerning safety issues that have been raised, we respectfully request that you respond to the following questions:

(1)    Does NHTSA have data on how many students are injured on school buses each year as a result of safety defects?

(2)    How many recalls does NHTSA issue for school buses each year?

(3)    What is NHTSA doing to coordinate with school bus providers to ensure that information regarding safety defects and school bus recalls is easily accessible?

(4)    What additional resources does NHTSA need to improve its oversight of school buses and ensure student safety?

Thank you for your attention to this important matter. We look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

 

Issues