WASHINGTON, D.C. — Three-point seat belts in school buses will be the subject of a public meeting to be held here later this month by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The agency announced the meeting in the Federal Register on Friday. The event will be held on July 23 at the U.S. Department of Transportation headquarters.
In the title of the Federal Register notice, the meeting is referred to as “School Bus Occupant Protection: Taking Safety to a New Level.”
“NHTSA is hosting a meeting to address the challenges and barriers that have prevented schools from taking action to install three-point seat belt systems in school buses,” according to the notice. “This meeting will update the current state of knowledge regarding occupant protection technology on school buses, identify operational challenges, and explore new approaches for funding mechanisms.”
Three-point (or lap-shoulder) belts are federally required on small school buses — specifically, those weighing 10,000 pounds or less — but NHTSA has long declined to mandate belts on large school buses. In February, shortly after he was sworn in to lead NHTSA, Administrator Mark Rosekind announced that the agency was convening a panel to examine the issue of seat belts on school buses.
Rosekind came to NHTSA after serving as a member of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which in 2013 expressed its support for seat belts on school buses after investigating two fatal school bus crashes. NTSB has been invited to NHTSA’s July 23 meeting to present its findings and recommendations from school bus crash investigations.
Also among the issues on the meeting agenda are seating capacity, strategies for communicating with parents and children, and training programs for school bus drivers and students.
The meeting will include brief presentations and breakout group discussions with NHTSA representatives and school transportation officials.