WASHINGTON, D.C - The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a final rule March 8, 2004, that converts a temporary provision, which was set to terminate on September 1, 2004 that allowed the manufacturer of safety harnesses that attach to a school bus seat back to a permanent provision within Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213, "Child Restraint Systems."
"Harnesses and other types of child restraints are otherwise generally prohibited by the standard from having any means designed for the system to a vehicle seat back," the rule reads. "This final rule eliminates the termination date for that provision, thus extending indefinitely the permission for manufacture of the harnesses. The harnesses must bear a warning label informing users that the harness must be used only on school bus seats, and that the entire seat directly behind the child wearing the seat-mounted harness must be either unoccupied or occupied by restrained passengers."
There were no changes made to the interim final rule, said Susan Kirinich, NHTSA safety specialist.
The final rule applies to all safety vests that use cam wraps, Kirinich said. A warning label is required on new vests produced after February 2003 stating that the seat behind a child in a vest should be left vacant or occupied by another restrained passenger. Current vests are okay to use without a warning label, because labels only apply to new vests
NHTSA noted that it considers the term "vest" and "harness" to be interchangeable, and uses the term "harness" throughout the Final Rule in an effort to maintain consistency with the regulatory language.
Kirinich also said that all safety restraints produced after February 2003 must have a crotch strap. Vests produced prior may not have crotch straps, but users can contact distributors or manufactures to purchase an optional one. Also, vests used for students over 65 lbs. are not covered under FMVSS 213 because they are positioning devices, she said.