Some of more than 50,000 school buses recalled because of insufficient seat padding are currently in use in at least three central Ohio school districts.
Officials from Dublin, Licking Heights and Pickerington told The Dispatch their districts received notices earlier this month about impacted buses from Thomas Built Buses, a North Carolina-based manufacturer. The recall started Dec. 2.
Dublin and Licking Heights, which operate 152 and 60 total buses daily, respectively, both said five of their buses are affected. Pickerington operates 80 buses daily and as of last week still hadn’t determined how many were impacted.
“We would continue to operate any buses that would be involved, as we could not continue to transport our students otherwise, and cannot reduce service,” Pickerington spokeswoman Crystal Davis said in an email.
The recall doesn’t affect a vehicle’s drivability or require it be taken out of service. Rather, the foam material used near the steel frame of seat back supports may not provide enough absorption to reduce the risk of injury during a crash. That means the bus doesn’t comply with federal safety standards, according to an October announcement issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Area officials told The Dispatch they’re waiting to hear from dealers who will be scheduling free repairs to install additional padding.
The issue has affected other Ohio districts, including Dayton, according to news reports.
Specifically affected are 2014-2020 Thomas Built model year Saf-T-Liner EFX, Minotour, Saf-T-Liner C2, and Saf-T-Liner HDX school buses equipped with SynTec S3B or S3C seats.
Daimler Trucks North America is the manufacturer’s parent company. Bus owners may contact its customer service center at 1-800-547-0712. The number for this recall is FL-832.
Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 or go to safercar.gov.