400 WV school buses have seat flaw that could cause injuries

By Ryan Quinn, Charleston Gazette-Mail

Four hundred school buses in West Virginia have seat backs that may lack sufficient cushioning to prevent injury in crashes, according to the West Virginia Department of Education.

Thomas Built Buses, the manufacturer of the affected buses, said in a statement that “an increased risk of injury may be present during certain frontal impact events if an unrestrained passenger’s knee strikes certain portions of the seat back surface area” of the seat in front of them.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration hasn’t ordered affected buses be taken out of service until the seats are fixed, according to Thomas Built, part of Germany-based Daimler AG.

“Additional impact absorption material will be added to the seat back,” Thomas Built said. “Thomas Built Buses and SynTec Seating Solutions are working as quickly as possible to develop the field repair and procure parts to release the recall repair.”

Kristin Anderson, the education department’s communications executive director, said Matheny, the West Virginia-based dealer for the buses, is compiling a list of where these buses are.

But Chuck Bennett, with Matheny Truck Centers, said Matheny doesn’t have the vehicle identification numbers yet for the affected buses. He said when the recall actually begins — it’s set to start Dec. 2 — a list will be available.