After decades of serving the school bus industry, you’d think the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) might have run out of ways to keep things fresh. On the contrary: Their abundance of bright ideas continues to show itself in a number of ways.
The association’s Annual Conference and Trade Show is a great example. In Grand Rapids, Mich., in late October, the conference — its 33rd edition — boasted a program full of must-attend events, from the bus-hijacking simulation to the wide variety of workshops to the thoroughly entertaining awards-banquet-turned-talk-show.
In September, NAPT launched a cutting-edge tool for sharing information with its members: a video blog. Executive Director Mike Martin hosts the online show, dubbed NAPTV, which features a refreshing mix of pertinent subject matter and lively comedic embellishments.
I commend Mike and the rest of the staff at NAPT for taking this bold step and for spending the time and effort needed to produce the show on a regular basis.
Weighing the proposal
The December episode of NAPTV provided an update on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on school bus passenger crash protection.
Key points in the new proposal include raising seat backs in all school buses from 20 to 24 inches, requiring lap-shoulder belts instead of only lap belts in small buses and providing guidance for voluntarily installed (or state-mandated) lap-shoulder belts in large buses.
As Mike explained, NAPT is not satisfied with the proposal. The association is still looking for three items from NHTSA:
They want valid data to support changes to the current passenger crash protection system.
They want NHTSA to make sure that any changes to the current passenger crash protection environment will not have any negative effects on any kids.
They want NHTSA to make an active effort to educate the public about the use of school buses and the importance of school buses as a way to save lives, prevent injuries and reduce economic costs due to road traffic crashes (which is NHTSA’s stated mission).
Let your voice be heard
To ensure that NHTSA hears its concerns, NAPT announced that it would submit comments to the NPRM docket.
If you haven’t read the NPRM, I encourage you to do so. Go to www.regulations.gov and search for docket ID NHTSA-2007-0014. This is also where you can add your own comments to the docket if you have concerns or suggestions.
The NPRM is certainly not light reading, but it’s well worth your time since these proposed changes could have significant impacts on our industry. Whether those impacts are for the better or for the worse is for you to decide.
To read our coverage of the NPRM and some of the reactions to it, see News Alert. And if you haven’t caught an episode of NAPT’s video blog, go to www.napt.org and click on the NAPTV logo.