SAN DIEGO — The National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) and the National School Transportation Association (NSTA) on Wednesday reaffirmed their joint position on occupant protection in large school buses.

The associations said that for more than a decade, they have participated in an “exhaustive” discussion of the topic by the school bus industry, including a federal rulemaking process conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). NHTSA is the federal agency responsible for deciding the efficacy of seat belts in all vehicles, including large school buses.

According to NAPT and NSTA, NHTSA has stated most recently that its best advice on the matter of seat belts in large school buses — superseding all other guidance — is contained in a single document: the Aug. 25, 2011, denial of a petition from the Center for Auto Safety and others requesting that NHTSA mandate seat belts in large school buses. The associations recommended reading the entire petition denial notice carefully.

“Together, NAPT and NSTA have a long public record of strong advocacy for elevating this discussion to a national level and for seeking science-based rather than emotion-driven or ‘directionally correct’ outcomes,” the associations said in a statement. “We will continue to work collaboratively in this regard. We want to replace with unequivocal science-based information the emotional arguments and personal opinions that sometimes dominate the conversation about belts on large school buses.”

NSTA and NAPT added that they are confident that states, communities and school transportation providers “will continue to make decisions that keep yellow school buses as the absolutely safest way for children to get to and from school, and indispensable to our public education system.”

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