The state directors association on Tuesday released a new position paper that elaborates on its recently updated stance on lap-shoulder belts for school buses.
At the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) conference in Grand Rapids, Mich., in October, the association's board decided to bolster its support for the three-point restraints by dropping a funding clause from its previous position (which said that the association supported lap-shoulder belts if funding was made available for them).
“NASDPTS fully supports the installation and use of lap-shoulder belts in school buses, period, with no ifs, ands or buts,” President Max Christensen said at the conference, with the clarification that “we are not recommending the installation and use, nor are we asking that lap-shoulder belts be required. We believe this should be a local decision based on local need.”
Over the past few months, Christensen and NASDPTS Executive Director Bob Riley have been working on a new lap-shoulder belt position paper, which the association’s board recently approved.
The paper gives a detailed background on the issue, including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)’s 2008 final rule that addressed lap-shoulder belts and the National Transportation Safety Board’s recommendations in response to the 2012 school bus crash near Chesterfield, N.J.
The new NASDPTS paper also thoroughly explains the association's position on lap-shoulder belts and lays out 10 supporting points. For example, the paper points to "limits for protection" of compartmentalization alone.
“Compartmentalization offers protection in frontal and in rear crashes assuming passengers are properly seated, but offers limited protection in rollovers or side impacts,” the paper says. “Passengers restrained by lap-shoulder belts are retained in the seating compartment, thus minimizing injury caused by body impact to surroundings.“
Among NASDPTS’ other supporting points are the ability of current lap-shoulder belt systems to maintain bus capacity, NHTSA’s approved technical standards for lap-shoulder belts in school buses, and the design of lap-shoulder belts minimizing the possibility of them being used as a weapon.
To read the full position paper, click here.