TUCSON, Ariz. — The National School Transportation Association (NSTA) adopted two key position statements during its winter meeting in late January. One of the statements involves the role of Congress in deciding whether lap/shoulder belts should be installed on school buses. The other involves the use of cell phones by school bus drivers.
On the issue of lap/shoulder belts, the NSTA recommends that states be allowed to decide whether to mandate them on their school buses rather than have it decided for them by the federal government.
“States are in a better position to gauge their needs and to determine the most beneficial use of limited resources to improve student health and safety,” the statement says.
While recognizing that lap/shoulder belts can provide additional protection to school bus passengers, the NSTA believes that Congress should not mandate their installation in all buses. The statement says that Congress’ role should be to “ensure that federal agencies charged with the responsibility for transportation safety analysis provide the states with the facts and guidance they need to make informed decisions.”
The second statement adopted by the NSTA at its winter meeting urges school bus contractors to prohibit their drivers from using a cell phone or other portable electronic device while operating the bus, including while loading or unloading students. The exception would be to communicate in an emergency.
The statement follows a similar recommendation by the National Transportation Safety Board in the wake of a Nov. 14, 2004, accident in which a motorcoach driver was talking on a hands-free cell phone when his coach crashed into a bridge in Alexandria, Va. The impact destroyed the roof of the bus and injured 11 student passengers, one seriously.
The Tucson meeting also saw the introduction of Danielle Abe as the NSTA’s new director of marketing and operations. She replaces Ann Henley, who has moved to another position in the association industry. Abe most recently worked for a Web development company called Americaneagle.com and previously had worked in various capacities at the United Motorcoach Association.
At the meeting, the NSTA announced that it has scheduled its 2008 winter meeting for Cancun, Mexico. Its annual convention in 2008 will be held in Calgary, Alberta.
This year’s annual convention is slated July 15 to 18 in Boston. For more information about the NSTA, visit www.yellowbuses.org or call NSTA headquarters at (800) 222-NSTA.