WESTFIELD, Ind. — At the North Carolina Pupil Transportation Association (NCPTA) annual conference, members received a report on the recently concluded six-month SafeGuard FlexSeat pilot program, managed by Cumberland County Schools in Fayetteville.
The SafeGuard FlexSeat, available on buses by Thomas Built and IC Bus, can transport three elementary school children or two high school students on a standard 39-inch seat equipped with three lap and shoulder belts, resolving capacity issues usually associated with seat belts on school buses.
Executive Director of Transportation Liz McGowan explained the school system’s experience with flexible belted seating, emphasizing positive feedback from parents, transportation officials and drivers.
Following the installation of the FlexSeats, the driver reported dramatic improvement in behavior on the bus, she said, and other drivers have expressed interest in equipping additional buses with seat belts since the program began in November.
Derek Graham, section chief of transportation services for North Carolina, said that in the state's past studies of three-point seat belts on school buses, passenger behavior improved but bus capacity was reduced. "We have been pleased to see that the capacity problem can be virtually eliminated," he said.
Graham added that the installation of seat belts could motivate more parents to choose school bus transportation for their children.