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School bus makers split on safety draft

By Xu Wei (China Daily)

08:21, January 11, 2012

Pupils of a primary school prepare to take a school bus in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, on Jan 4. (China Daily Photo)

BEIJING - Opinions were divided among school bus manufacturers at a national conference over proposed standards for the buses, with some complaining that a newly released draft of standards sets the bar too high.

The conference, held by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, is aimed at seeking feedback from major bus producers on the draft of safety standards for school buses, including technical specifications and car seat standards. The solicitation of public opinion ended on Sunday.

School bus safety has been a high priority for the central government following a string of deadly road accidents involving pupils and preschoolers in the last two months of 2011. China has seen a groundswell of voices calling for safer school buses and more school bus access nationwide.

Solicitation of public opinion about the draft of the standards, made by the national technical committee of auto standardization, started at the end of December. Some automakers have voiced clear disagreements over the draft version of the new standard.

"It is way too high for most school bus manufacturers," said Tian Xiaoguang, director of a marketing research center under Baoding Chang'an Bus Manufacturing Co, a subsidiary of the Chongqing-based Chang'an Automobile Group.

Tian pointed to the specification in the draft that requires the shape of school buses to mimic the shape of US school buses, which feature a "big-nose" design where the chassis extends out from the front of the vehicle over the wheels.

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