GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The state directors association on Monday strengthened its position in support of lap-shoulder belts for school buses.
Previously, the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) had gone on the record to support lap-shoulder belts if funding is made available for them. But that statement had begun to seem inconsequential considering economic conditions.
“All of us know that funding is not currently generally available, and I doubt anyone thinks it will become available anytime in the near future,” NASDPTS President Max Christensen said. “Thus our position really seemed to be a ‘non-position.’”
At the association’s conference in Grand Rapids, the NASDPTS board decided to bolster its support for the three-point restraints by dropping the funding clause from its position.
“As of today, NASDPTS fully supports the installation and use of lap-shoulder belts in school buses, period, with no ifs, ands or buts,” Christensen said on Monday.
However, the board noted that it should be left up to school districts whether to equip their buses with the restraints.
“We are not recommending the installation and use, nor are we asking that lap-shoulder belts be required,” Christensen said. “We believe this should be a local decision based on local need.”
NASDPTS’ position papers on the topic will be updated to reflect the new position.
Seat belts on school buses has been a contentious topic in the industry for several decades, but Christensen said that the NASDPTS board felt it was time to take “a true leadership position” on the issue.