DES MOINES, Iowa — Changes to Iowa's school bus specification rules that went into effect today cover such areas as mirrors, seating and surveillance cameras.
This is the first update of the state's "Minimum Specifications for Construction of School Transportation Equipment" — also known as the Administrative Code Chapter 44 rules — in about eight years.
Among the changes are requirements for remote-controlled mirrors, fluorescent seat belts for drivers, and fire block upholstery in all seating positions. Allowances are also made for inside cameras being mounted mid-ship and the use of mobile WiFi.
Iowa officials said that the chapter has also been totally reformatted to make the rules easier to read and understand, and to be more user-friendly.
“Though these changes took time, the finished product is considered to be much improved over the previous rules, last updated in November of 2006,” said Max Christensen, Iowa's state director of pupil transportation.
As an example, previously there were separate sections for the body specs and the chassis specs. The update combines those two sections into one. Officials said that this will help by eliminating double standards and allowing the user to only have to look in one area for various items, such as “bumper,” “color” or “wiring.”
The biggest change to the Iowa school bus rules is in the area of seat restraints. Lap belts are no longer allowed on new buses, except for use with child seats meeting the requirements of FMVSS 213. Otherwise, if seat restraints are used on a new school bus, they must be lap-shoulder belts and must include a flexible seating design feature.
“We still feel it should be a local district decision to add seat restraints to a new school bus," Christensen said. "But if they make that decision, we feel the three-point lap-shoulder belts add a great deal more safety than simply using the two-point lap belt variety. With this updated rule, the use of school bus seat restraints in Iowa enters a new and safer era.”