ALEXANDRIA, Va. — New federal recommendations on school bus occupant protection are in alignment with the National School Transportation Association (NSTA)’s stance on the subject, association officials said on Friday.
Following its investigations of last year’s fatal school bus accidents in Chesterfield, N.J., and Port St. Lucie, Fla. — both of which involved lap belt-equipped buses — the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) developed several new recommendations related to school bus safety.
Two of the recommendations are directed at NSTA and other national school bus industry associations. One is to develop guidelines for training bus drivers, students and parents on “the importance and proper use of school bus seat belts, including manual lap belts, adjustable lap and shoulder belts, and flexible seating systems.”
Another NTSB recommendation to the national associations is to provide their members with educational materials on lap-shoulder belts "providing the highest level of protection for school bus passengers" and to advise states or school districts to "consider this added safety benefit when purchasing seat belt-equipped school buses."
NSTA officials said that the association “stands ready to work with the NTSB and supports its recommendations, as they are in alignment with NSTA's 2007 Statement on Occupant Protection.”
In that statement, NSTA notes the importance of proper seat belt usage and recommends that any requirement for safety restraints include a mandate for usage and a mandate that school districts include training on the proper use and adjustment of lap-shoulder belts in their annual school bus safety training.
In response to the NTSB’s recommendations, new NSTA President Tim Flood said that "the safety of schoolchildren is our utmost concern, and we are grateful that the NTSB has validated our long-standing recommendations. We look forward to working with our members and others in the industry to update and provide guidelines and educational materials on occupant protection systems."