School buses included in legislation

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The anti-terrorism legislation signed by President Bush in late October includes school buses and school bus drivers in its definition of “mass transportation systems,” providing greater safety for drivers and the children they transport. “It’s a major piece of legislation,” said Jeff Kulick, executive director of the National School Transportation Association, which lobbied successfully for the school transportation provision. “We’ve been working on this provision for two years, and the time was right,” he said. “The original legislation submitted by Attorney General John Ashcroft did not cover school transportation.” Under the new law, terrorist acts and other violent crimes against mass transportation employees and vehicles may be investigated, tried and punished as federal crimes. The law also addresses the use of biological or chemical agents on or near mass transportation vehicles or facilities. Some of the offenses punishable under the new law include wrecking, setting fire to or otherwise disabling or impairing a vehicle and interfering with, disabling or incapacitating any driver, dispatcher, maintenance worker or other party responsible for the operation of the vehicle.

Concerns raised about safety vests

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Safety vests commonly used in school buses might not meet federal safety standards, according to Charlie Hott, safety standards engineer for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Hott, who spoke recently at the annual meeting of the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services in Nashville, Tenn., said safety vests that attach to the seat back structure do not meet FMVSS 213. Hott cited section 5.3.1. in FMVSS 213, which says “each add-on child restraint system shall not have any means designed for attaching the system to a vehicle seat cushion or vehicle seat back and any component (except belts) that is designed to be inserted between the vehicle seat cushion and vehicle seat back.” Rather than discourage the use of apparently non-conforming safety vests, Hott said NHTSA would meet with industry representatives to examine the issue and offer recommendations. “We’ll get some guidance to the industry on these safety vests,” Hott said, adding that “misinformation” about the situation could do more harm than good. Hott’s comments about FMVSS 213 contradict information presented in NHTSA’s brochure, “Proper Use of Child Safety Restraint Systems in School Buses.” The brochure recommends the use of a particular type of safety vest that has straps that wrap around the back of the seat and attach to shoulder harness hooks.

NAPT award winners announced

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Each year the National Association for Pupil Transportation presents its annual awards at its industry conference. This year’s winners were honored at the NAPT awards banquet on Nov. 11.

NAPT Hall of Fame -- Carlisle Beasley and Ed Donn
Distinguished Service Award -- Jerry Milliken, Roane County Schools, Spencer, W.V.
Thomas Built Buses Professional Growth Award -- Rebecca Elder, Seneca Falls (N.Y.) Central School District
International Bus Driver Training/Safety Award -- Beverly DeMott, Hillsborough County Public Schools, Thonotosassa, Fla.
Sure-Lok Special-Needs Transportation Award -- Alice Griffin, Hillsborough County Public Schools, Thonotosassa, Fla.
Blue Bird Heroism Award -- Guillerma "Mina" Cortez, Southwest Transportation, Riverdale, Calif.
International Marketing Inc. (IMI) School Bus Driver Excellence Award -- Sue Ann Goethals, Greece (N.Y.) Central School District
2001 Leland E.G. Larson Quality Student Transportation Award -- Chesterfield County (Va.) Public Schools
SBF 2001 Administrator of the Year -- Randy McLerran, Oklahoma Department of Education (see story in this issue)

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