A nationwide recall of school buses because of a lack of padding in the seat backs. AJC file photo

Several metro school systems may have buses in recall

At least four metro Atlanta school districts may have buses that are part of a nationwide recall. Gwinnett, Cobb, DeKalb and Clayton counties are awaiting word from the manufacturer to find out if they have buses that don’t comply with federal safety standards.

A nationwide recall of more than 50,000 buses was issued recently by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The NHTSA says the buses do not comply with the federal safety requirements. According to a news release, the bus seat backs were made with styrene blocks and they may not give enough impact absorption around the back of the seat frame. 

In a crash, a rider could be hurt. 

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With the largest bus fleet in the state and the third in the nation, Gwinnett County is monitoring the issue.

“Roughly 315 of our 1,900 buses COULD be affected by the recall, but Thomas has not yet released the information (VINs) that will identify the exact buses involved in the recall,” said Bernard Watson, Gwinnett school district spokesman. “It is important to note, according to Thomas, the issue does not place the bus out of service. The bottom of the seat back does not have enough padding. The proposed fix is to add 2 inches of additional padding.” 

Cobb County has the second largest bus fleet in the state and the ninth largest in the nation.

"The minor recall only affects 25 of our buses,” said a Cobb spokeswoman. “We have already started coordinating the repairs in advance of the official notice and do no expect the recall to impact the normal operation of our fleet of more than 1,000 buses."

Clayton County is also concerned, but didn’t have an estimate on how many buses may be affected.

“We can confirm that Clayton County Public Schools anticipates being impacted by the nationwide school bus recall,” said a district spokesman. “Once the district has been informed of the number of buses affected, we will work with the vendor to mitigate this issue.”

DeKalb County didn’t have numbers either.

“As of today, the manufacturer has not issued the VINs of the impacted buses, and we are unable to provide a list of impacted buses,” said a district spokeswoman.

Fulton County said none of its buses will be affected. 

The recall affects 53,528 2014 through 2020 Thomas Built bus models: 

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

All of the buses have SynTec S3B or S3C seats. 

Daimler Trucks North America, owner of the Thomas Built Buses company, will notify owners of the affected buses and dealers will add padding between the frame and the seat cover at no cost. 

The recall begins Dec. 2. 

Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

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