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August 29, 2011  |   Comments (2)   |   Post a comment

NHTSA denies petition to require lap-shoulder belts on large buses


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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has denied a request for rulemaking from 22 entities asking the agency to mandate the installation of three-point seat belts on large school buses.Photo by Flickr user uncleboatshoes

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has denied a request for rulemaking from 22 entities asking the agency to mandate the installation of three-point seat belts on large school buses.
Photo by Flickr user uncleboatshoes

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Thursday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) denied a petition for rulemaking from the Center for Auto Safety and 21 others asking the agency to mandate the installation of three-point seat belts for all seating positions on all school buses.

In the Aug. 25 edition of the Federal Register, NHTSA said that it is denying the petition because it has “not found a safety problem supporting a federal requirement for lap-shoulder belts on large school buses, which are already very safe.”

NHTSA went on to say that the decision to install seat belts on school buses should be left to state and local jurisdictions, which can weigh the need for, benefits and consequences of installing belts on large school buses and best decide whether their particular pupil transportation programs merit installation of the devices.

The agency also said that for large school buses, it has been mindful that a requirement for seat belts could affect funding for school transportation. A federal requirement for seat belts on large school buses will increase the cost to purchase and operate the vehicles, according to NHTSA. This could, in turn, reduce the availability of school bus service overall, and reduce school bus ridership.

NHTSA most recently discussed the issue of requiring seat belts on large school buses in a rulemaking proceeding that was completed last year. In that rulemaking, the agency presented up-to-date information and discussed the reasoning behind its decision not to propose to require seat belts in large school buses.

The NPRM and final rule preambles presented data and findings from several studies, including those from the National Transportation Safety Board and the National Academy of Sciences.


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Read more about: NHTSA, NTSB, seat belts


Parent groups are getting done what NTHSA refuses to do. So many not mandated states school districts are installing belts on their school buses that a federal mandate is becoming irrelevant, other than an eventual housekeeping rule to standardize a new nationwide school bus safety standard. Behind the politics over 1/4th of IC's school buses are equipped at new production with seat belts, mostly lapbelts where 3-points are not mandated. It is true that I'm personally ready and find no objection to 2-point, 3-point or 4-point systems, even the more expensive ‘FlexSeat’ styles where wanted. Doesn't matter, any of these safety devices and enforcement keep children seated and that's a big safety plus in and of itself. A simple rule concerning school buses not equipped with seat belts: Do not crash that bus!

Jkraemer    |    Sep 08, 2011 08:18 AM

Thank you NHTSA!! Finally, a voice of reason concerning seatbelts on large buses. I am a transportation director in the state of Maine and I do not support seat belts on buses. The posters that are presented with 3 students in a bus seat are hilarious. It has students ranging in ages of 6-16 sitting in the same seat, squished. What parent wants their 6 year old seated with older kids? We live in Maine - where are the snowsuits? The book bags? The sport bags? The lunch boxes? The art, science, social studies projects? The death of any child is tragic. More children die in car accidents than on a bus. Are we going to outlaw cars? And then there are the financial and practical reasons the article stated. Thank You!

Jenny Chase    |    Sep 01, 2011 07:21 AM

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