The country's largest manufacturer of school buses is recalling at least 24,000 buses to repair fuel systems that could leak excessively in a crash and start fires.
But the manager of the local bus company that provides transportation for the Lawrence school district said the recall will affect few, if any, of the company's buses.
The defect may affect all 185,000 International buses made since Sept. 1, 1978, Navistar International Corp. said Wednesday.
No accidents or injuries related to the defect have been reported on systems like those on the bus that was tested. Navistar also will test International buses equipped with other types of fuel systems before deciding if they need to be recalled.
The company said it would notify owners of the affected buses probably in early August.
BOB RUSSELL, contract manager for Mayflower Contract Services Inc. in Lawrence, said that only five of Mayflower's 61 buses are International buses.
Russell said one of those International buses already had its fuel line rerouted as part of a recall in March. Russell said a section of the bus's fuel line was located behind the fuel tank such that in the case of a crash, the fuel line could have been pinched and leaked excessively.
For that reason, Russell said, the fuel line was rerouted to the side of the tank.
That fuel-line problem, however, was not related to the defect that Navistar officials are talking about now. Navistar officials said the defect was uncovered last month during a routine crash test of an International school bus.
THE TEST, performed June 23 by federal officials, simulated the impact of a stationary bus being hit by a car traveling at 30 mph. The crash collapsed a metal cage surrounding the vehicle's 35-gallon fuel tank. The cage in turn punctured the tank and caused fuel to leak, Navistar spokeswoman Deborah Spak said.
Mark D. Schwabero, a Navistar vice president, said the company was developing and testing possible remedies.
International chassis account for 35 percent to 40 percent of the buses sold in the United States, Ms. Spak said. She said the company was the largest U.S. manufacturer.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Andrew H. Card Jr. said parents should not worry.
``School buses remain the safest form of transportation for our children,'' Card said in a statement. ``Accident statistics indicate that the risk of fatal injury in school buses is four times less than in passenger cars.''