School buses recalled over seat safety concerns; Central Virginia districts respond

RICHMOND, Va. -- More than 53,000 school buses are the subject of a nationwide recall over concerns about the safety of some seats on the bus.

The recall, announced by the announced by the National Highway Transit Safety Administration (NHTSA), potential affects 53, 528 Thomas Built schools buses made by Daimler Trucks North America LLC (DNTA). The alert said that DTNA is recalling certain 2014-2020 buses equipped with SynTec S3B or S3C seats:

  • Saf-T-Liner EFX
  • Minotour
  • Saf-T-Liner C2
  • Saf-T-Liner HDX

The alert states the seats on these buses “may have been manufactured with styrene blocks that may not provide sufficient impact absorption in certain specific areas around the steel seat frame of the back support.” It adds that the “lack of impact absorption increases the risk of injury in the event of a crash”.

Additional documents related to the alert state there “have been no reported injuries or accidents related to this defect”.

The documents detail that the defect was brought to DTNA’s attention by Transport Canada about “non-complying test results on 2 of 4 seats tested for knee foam impact.”

NHTSA said DTNA will send letters to owners to notify them if their bus is impacted by the recall and needs to be fixed, which will be the installation of “additional impact material between the re-bond back and the vinyl back cover to increase the amount of absorption, free of charge.”

The recall is expected to begin December 2, 2019.

WTVR CBS 6 has reached out to 31 school systems in Central Virginia to see if they may be affected by this recall. Below is a compilation of their responses:

Have buses in the recall timeframe:

  • Buckingham County Public Schools. Superintendent Dr. Daisy Hicks wrote to CBS 6 in an email: “We have 10 buses in which fit that description between 2014-20; however, we have not received any recall information regarding these buses at this time.”
  • King William County Public Schools. Division Superintendent Dr. David White wrote to CBS 6 in an email: “We have contacted our representative at Thomas Bus and they have assured us that there is no safety concern to our children. The voluntary notice is in reference to the foam around the bottom of the seats known as the shin guard section of the seat. Reports seem to indicate that that foam has shifted and that the notice will address the relocation of this piece of foam. We currently have three (3) Thomas buses on the road that may or may not fall under this notice, but we will not know for certain until early to mid-December, once the VIN numbers have been released. Based upon the information provided by Thomas, we don't feel that our children are in any danger.”

Do not have buses in the recall timeframe:

  • Amelia County Public Schools
  • Charles City County Public Schools
  • Chesterfield County Public Schools
  • Dinwiddie County Public Schools
  • Essex County Public Schools
  • Hanover County Public Schools
  • King and Queen County Public Schools. Initially, the school system said they had three buses that fell within the timeframe in question, but Division Superintendent Dr. Carol Carter wrote to CBS 6 on Friday stating “[a]fter further review from the dealer, King and Queen County Public Schools does not have any buses meeting the specifications for the recall.”
  • Louisa County Public Schools
  • Lunenberg County Public Schools
  • Richmond Public Schools
  • Richmond County Public Schools

No response yet or are looking into it:

  • Brunswick County Public Schools
  • Caroline County Public Schools
  • Colonial Heights Public Schools
  • Cumberland County Public Schools
  • Goochland County Public Schools. A representative from the school system said they do not have any buses from 2018. CBS 6 is waiting to hear back about the other years covered by the recall.
  • Greensville County Public Schools
  • Henrico County Public Schools
  • Hopewell City Public Schools
  • Lancaster County Public Schools
  • Middlesex County Public Schools
  • New Kent County Public Schools
  • Northumberland County Public Schools
  • Nottoway County Public Schools
  • Orange County Public Schools
  • Petersburg City Public Schools. A representative from the school system said they do not have any buses from 2018. CBS 6 is waiting to hear back about the other years covered by the recall. Public Information Officer Leigh Ann McKelway wrote in a statement: “Safety is a priority for Petersburg City Public Schools. We are working to determine if we have any school buses included in the recall. If any are included, then we will quickly take appropriate actions.”
  • Powhatan County Public Schools. A representative from the school system said they do not have any buses from 2018. CBS 6 is waiting to hear back about the other years covered by the recall.
  • Prince Edward County Public Schools
  • Prince George County Public Schools

CBS 6 will update this list as responses become available.

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