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January 09, 2014  |   Comments (0)   |   Post a comment

NASDPTS bolsters support for lap-shoulder belts

The state directors association had previously expressed its support for lap-shoulder belts if funding is made available. At the annual NASDPTS conference, the board strengthens its position by dropping the funding clause. Safety topics were the focus of many conference sessions.

by Thomas McMahon - Also by this author

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Attendees watch the heartrending film “Impact: After the Crash,” on the catastrophic bus crash and fire in Carrollton, Ky., in 1988. On screen is Harold Dennis, who escaped from the bus but was severely burned.
<p>Attendees watch the heartrending film “Impact: After the Crash,” on the catastrophic bus crash and fire in Carrollton, Ky., in 1988. On screen is Harold Dennis, who escaped from the bus but was severely burned.</p>

Michigan matters
During NASDPTS conference sessions at the DeVos Place Convention Center, on the banks of the chilly Grand River, attendees heard from several Michigan officials involved in transportation safety. That included a welcome from state pupil transportation director Ken Micklash and an overview of the Michigan Traffic Crash Facts website (, which allows users to analyze accidents involving school buses, among other vehicles.

Sgt. Mike McLaughlin of the Michigan State Police shared details on changes to the state’s school bus inspection program. The agency is implementing tablets for its inspectors and moving to an electronic inspection form, which McLaughlin said will increase efficiency and access to key information.
“All the data that’s in there will be searchable,” he said. “We’re going to have more data available to us than we even realize now.”

Crash analyses
NASDPTS held two joint keynote sessions with the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT). Both of those presentations examined fatal bus crashes.

Christopher Hart, vice chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, discussed his agency’s investigations of two similar school bus accidents in 2012 — one in Chesterfield, N.J., and the other in Port St. Lucie, Fla. In the other session, attendees watched a documentary on the 1988 Carrollton, Ky., bus tragedy. (For more on those two sessions, see this article.)

Also during the joint gathering of NASDPTS and NAPT attendees, the American School Bus Council presented its School Bus Champions award to Washington State Superintendent Randy Dorn and his chief of staff, Ken Kanikeberg. Both have been instrumental in increasing pupil transportation funding and protecting regional coordinator positions in their state.

“During the last [legislative] session, they secured another $109 million in funding for pupil transportation in Washington for the next two years,” said Don Carnahan, former Washington state pupil transportation director and now president of NAPT. “This is not a one-time deal for these gentlemen. They have actively supported pupil transportation initiatives for many years.”

Variety of topics
Other NASDPTS sessions included:
• Donny Bynum, superintendent of Dale County (Ala.) Schools, shared his district’s experiences and lessons learned in the early 2013 incident in which school bus driver Charles “Chuck” Poland Jr. was fatally shot and a 5-year-old student was taken hostage.
• Launi Hardin, transportation director at Washington County School District in St. George, Utah, discussed Obamacare and its implications for school districts and their bus drivers.
• Washington state pupil transportation director Allan Jones put a humorous spin on his presentation about marijuana legalization in Washington and its possible effects on school bus drivers.

The 2014 NASDPTS conference will be held in Kansas City, Mo., Nov. 9-12.

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