How Many Riders Per School Bus Seat?

Posted on April 1, 2002

How many riders can fit on a standard school bus seat? Federal regulation does not specify the number of persons who can sit on a school bus seat. The bus manufacturers determine the maximum seating capacity and use this number, which is based on sitting three small elementary school-age persons per typical 39-inch seat, in the calculations for determining the gross vehicle weight rating and the number of emergency exits. School transportation providers generally determine the number of persons who they can safely fit into a school bus seat. Generally, they fit three smaller elementary students or two high school students into a 39-inch seat. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that all passengers be seated entirely within the confines of the school bus seats while the bus is in motion. FMVSS 222, “School Bus Passenger Seating and Crash Protection,” requires that the interior of large buses provide occupant protection so that children are protected without the need to buckle up. Occupant crash protection is provided by a protective envelope consisting of strong, closely-spaced seats that have energy-absorbing seat backs. Persons not sitting or sitting partially outside of the seats will not be afforded the protection provided by the school bus seats. Source:

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