Wisconsin Department of Transportation

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Prohibited vehicles for school transport

Automobile dealers may not sell large vans to school districts for pupil transportation. These vans are not built to the safety specification of a school bus, even the smaller school buses.

  • Pupils of educational institutions may not be transported in any vehicle other than a school bus if more than ten students are being transported.
  • A van that holds 11 or more passengers sold to a school district would violate that federal law. School district administrators should NEVER consider buying such a vehicle. The protections of the school bus construction are worth the additional cost.
  • The driver and only 9 students can legally be accommodated in a vehicle which is not a school bus as defined.
  • Crash data shows that larger vans, especially when fully loaded, are highly prone to roll over in off-the-road single vehicle crashes as well as head-on crashes. Combined with that and the lower structural integrity of the roof supports, occupants are at high risk of serious or fatal injury in a crash of this vehicle.

Federal safety rules for other vehicles used as school buses

  • Federal law requires that school transportation should be held to the highest level of safety, since such transportation involves the Nation's most precious cargo -- children.
  • Accordingly, the government has established minimum safety standards that are over and above those for regular buses that all school buses must meet.

Federal guidelines for new vehicles that carry eleven or more people that are sold for transporting students to or from school or school related events:

  • School buses must have stop arms along with many other safety features over and above those of other passenger vehicles.
  • A vehicle is regarded as being sold for use as a school bus if, at the time of sale, it is evident that the vehicle is likely to be significantly used to transport students to or from school or school related events.
  • This statute applies to school buses sold to public as well as parochial schools.

Questions about the content of this page:
Lt. Karl Mittelstadt, karl.mittelstadt@dot.wi.gov
Last modified: September 3, 2014

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