ARCHIVED — Vol. 149, No. 3 — February 11, 2015

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SOR/2015-23 January 30, 2015

MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY ACT

Regulations Amending the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations (Interpretation and Standards 108 and 131)

P.C. 2015-46 January 29, 2015

His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Transport, pursuant to subsections 5(1) (see footnote a) and 11(1) (see footnote b) of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act (see footnote c), makes the annexed Regulations Amending the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations (Interpretation and Standards 108 and 131).

REGULATIONS AMENDING THE MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY REGULATIONS (INTERPRETATION AND STANDARDS 108 AND 131)

AMENDMENTS

1. (1) The definition “school bus” in subsection 2(1) of the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations (see footnote 1) is replaced by the following:

“school bus” means a bus designed or equipped primarily to carry students to and from school or to and from school-related events; (autobus scolaire)

(2) Subsection 2(1) of the Regulations is amended by adding the following in alphabetical order:

“multifunction school activity bus” means a school bus that is designed to pick up and drop off students under circumstances in which there is no need to control traffic. (autobus multifonction pour les activités scolaires)

2. Paragraph 6(1)(f) of the Regulations is amended by striking out “and” at the end of subparagraph (xxi), by adding “and” at the end of subparagraph (xxii) and by adding the following after subparagraph (xxii):

  • (xxiii) “MFSAB/AMAS” to refer to a multifunction school activity bus;

3. Subsection 108(13) of Schedule IV to the Regulations is replaced by the following:

(13) Every school bus other than a multifunction school activity bus shall be equipped with a flasher that conforms to SAE Recommended Practice J1054, Warning Lamp Alternating Flashers (October 1989), and that activates the signal lamps referred to in S5.1.4 of TSD 108.

4. Subsection 131(1) of Schedule IV to the Regulations is replaced by the following:

131. (1) Subject to subsection (2), every school bus other than a multifunction school activity bus shall be equipped with one or two stop signal arms that conform to the requirements of Technical Standards Document No. 131, School Bus Pedestrian Safety Devices (TSD 131), as amended from time to time.

COMING INTO FORCE

5. These Regulations come into force on the day on which they are published in the Canada Gazette, Part II.

REGULATORY IMPACT ANALYSIS STATEMENT

(This statement is not part of the Regulations.)

Issues

Several provinces and territories have advised the Department of Transport (the Department) that their ministries of education have either suspended or banned the use of 15-passenger vans for student transport, and instead require the use of a multifunctional activity type of bus. School boards and bus service operators currently cannot purchase a vehicle defined as a school bus, but which is absent of some of the safety features, such as the stop signal arm and flashing lights. These features are not required when the vehicle is being used for non-school commuting purposes, such as transporting people to extra-curricular field trips and sporting events. These control devices are not necessary in situations where the vehicle would not be repeatedly picking up and dropping off students at the roadside. As a result, several stakeholders have in recent years requested the creation of a definition for a multifunction school activity bus (MFSAB) to satisfy their transportation needs.

Objective

This amendment introduces a definition for a MFSAB within the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations to address stakeholder needs. The introduction of a definition for a MFSAB accommodates school boards and bus service operators while providing the same level of crash safety as a school bus.

Description

This amendment introduces a definition for a multifunction school activity bus (MFSAB). Under the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations, a “bus” is a prescribed class of vehicle that has a designated seating capacity of more than 10 occupants. As the prescribed class of “bus” includes all vehicles having a seating capacity of more than 10, it covers a wide range of buses including coach type buses, shuttle buses, 15-passenger vans, and school buses. Each type of bus must be constructed to meet the applicable safety standards. School buses are a further defined specialized type of bus and they must meet additional structural, fuel system integrity, emergency exit, and visibility safety standards, designed for improved protection for the transportation of children to and from school.

As MFSAB are not intended to be used to pick up and drop off students from the road side, they do not require traffic/pedestrian control devices, such as the stop signal arm and red flashing lights, that are found on school buses. However, MFSAB will be required to meet all other Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (CMVSS) applicable to school buses. The definition of a MFSAB harmonizes with the federal requirements of the United States and is consistent with the objectives of the Canada–United States Regulatory Cooperation Council.

The highway traffic act of each province/territory sets out the legal responsibilities for motor vehicle owners and drivers. More importantly, provinces, territories and their ministries of education decide the appropriate mode of transportation for students and the acceptable types of vehicles. Enforcement of the proper use of vehicles and driver licensing falls under the jurisdiction of the provincial/territorial governments.

“One-for-One” Rule

The “One-for-One” Rule does not apply to this amendment, as there is no change in administrative costs to businesses with the introduction of a definition for a MFSAB.

Small business lens

The small business lens does not apply to this amendment, as there are no increased costs imposed on small business or on business in general.

Consultation

The Department informs the automotive industry, public safety organizations, and the general public when changes are planned to the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations. This gives them the opportunity to comment on these changes by letter or email. The Department also consults regularly, in face-to-face meetings or teleconferences, with the automotive industry, public safety organizations, the provinces and the territories.

In addition, the Department meets regularly with the federal authorities of other countries. Given that harmonized regulations are key to trade and to a competitive Canadian automotive industry, the Department and the United States Department of Transportation hold semi-annual meetings to discuss issues of mutual interest and planned regulatory changes. In addition, departmental officials participate in and support the development of United Nations Global Technical Regulations, which are developed by the World Forum for the Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations (WP.29) under the direction of the United Nations.

With a view to improving motor vehicle occupant safety, several stakeholders have requested amendments to the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations to distinguish MFSAB from 15-passenger vans and other buses, and to apply additional safety standards to MFSAB. The development of a definition for MFSAB included participation from the Van Angels group of safety advocates, the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), the provincial governments, school boards, and vehicle manufacturers.

In two letters dated July 14, 2011, the CSA President and the CSA Technical Committee on School Buses requested that the Department consider establishing a definition for MFSAB. The Technical Committee on School Buses consists of all the major school bus stakeholders including representatives from the provincial and territorial governments, vehicle manufacturers (which includes Canada’s largest school bus manufacturer), bus service operators and Transport Canada. The letters expressed the importance of creating regulatory harmonization across the country and with the United States for these types of vehicles.

The CSA Technical Committee on School Buses stated in its letter that if the MFSAB definition was introduced into the federal Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations, it intends to revise their current D270 multifunctional activity buses (MFAB) Standard to apply only to a federally defined MFSAB. This updated D270 Standard would be easier for provincial and territorial jurisdictions to apply and create greater consistency across all jurisdictions.

Several stakeholders desire to use a MFSAB in lieu of other transportation options, such as 15-passenger vans, for the transportation of school age children for extracurricular activities. Similar to school buses, a MFSAB would have additional safety standards, over and above those applicable to other types of buses. Some ministries of education currently require that vehicles used for the transport of students to extracurricular activities meet the current requirements for multifunctional activity buses under CSA D270. These ministries have indicated that a federally defined MFSAB in conjunction with an updated CSA D270 Standard would be preferred.

In three letters dated August 4, 2011, safety advocates from the stakeholder group known as Van Angels and two other letters from associated safety advocates expressed strong support for the CSA request that Transport Canada establish a definition for the MFSAB.

In late 2012, the Department requested information from the provinces and territories with respect to their views on introducing a new definition in the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations for a MFSAB. The Department proposed that this new definition would mandate appropriate safety standards for this type of vehicle. All provinces and territories responded with the overwhelming majority providing support for the introduction of a new definition. One jurisdiction indicated that it was neutral to the proposal as it currently uses school buses and does not anticipate using another type of bus for student transportation. Feedback was also requested from the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA) board members from the 13 provincial/territorial jurisdictions. Alberta and British Columbia representatives responded and indicated that they were supportive of the amendment.

The amendments were published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, on December 7, 2013, followed by a 75-day comment period. The Department received seven letters in response. One letter was from the CSA Technical Committee on School Buses. The Committee recognizes the benefits of designating MFSAB with school bus construction and other safety features, as an alternative to other bus types used for school related transportation. In their letter in 2011, the committee had stated their intent to modify the D270 Standard, but it is currently the intent of the Committee to withdraw the 2008 publication of the D270 multifunctional activity buses (MFAB) Standard and instead incorporate requirements for a MFSAB type vehicle as an optional module in the next revision of the D250 school bus safety standards.

Three letters were received from members of the Van Angels safety advocacy group, lending their full support to the amendment. Another letter was received from IC Bus, LLC, a subsidiary of Navistar, Inc., and a manufacturer of IC branded school and commercial buses. IC Bus supports the creation of a MFSAB classification that aligns with the definition adopted by the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

One stakeholder commented that the proposed definition was not clear and that it introduced ambiguity in its interpretation. They further recommended that the Department align more closely with the definition used by the United States NHTSA. However, the Department believes that the modified MFSAB definition provides more clarity on the purpose of a MFSAB, appropriate to the Canadian context. Regardless of the differences in the MFSAB definition, the technical regulatory requirements are identical to those mandated by NHTSA. The Department discussed this with the stakeholder concerned, who then withdrew their concern.

Rationale

The introduction of a definition for a MFSAB accommodates school boards and bus service operators while providing a similar level of safety as school buses. The development of a definition for the MFSAB included participation from the Van Angels group of safety advocates, the CSA, the provincial governments, school boards, and vehicle manufacturers. The Canadian MFSAB will align with the MFSAB requirements of the NHTSA. The Department has received endorsement from school bus manufacturers and all provincial governments.

Implementation, enforcement and service standards

Motor vehicle manufacturers and importers are responsible for ensuring compliance with the requirements of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and its regulations.  The Department of Transport monitors the self-certification programs of manufacturers and importers by reviewing their test documentation, inspecting vehicles, and testing vehicles obtained in the open market.  In addition, when a manufacturer or importer identifies a defect in a vehicle or equipment, it must issue a Notice of Defect to the owners and to the Minister of Transport.  Any person or company that contravenes a provision of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act or its regulations is guilty of an offence, and liable to the applicable penalty set out in the Act.

Contact

Kyle Buchanan
Regulatory Development Engineer
Road Safety and Motor Vehicle Regulation Directorate
Transport Canada
330 Sparks Street, 11th Floor
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0N5
Email: kyle.buchanan@tc.gc.ca