NASDPTS's new position paper details the reasons for the association’s support for three-point seat belts, common objections raised to adding them to school buses, and offers guidance on making the decision to require them in new buses. File photo courtesy Des Moines (Iowa) Public Schools

NASDPTS's new position paper details the reasons for the association’s support for three-point seat belts, common objections raised to adding them to school buses, and offers guidance on making the decision to require them in new buses. File photo courtesy Des Moines (Iowa) Public Schools

The National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) has released a new position paper on the use of lap-shoulder (three-point) seat belts in school buses.

Approved by the NASDPTS board of directors on Wednesday, the position paper supersedes the association’s 2014 position paper, “The Equipping and Use of Passenger Lap-Shoulder Belts in School Buses,” Mike LaRocco, NASDPTS’s president, said in a letter to members on Thursday.

The paper details the association’s longtime support for the safety value that lap-shoulder belts bring to  school buses by augmenting compartmentalization, and states that NASDPTS fully supports requiring three-point belts in all new school buses, LaRocco added in the letter. The position paper also covers the reasons for NASDPTS’ support, as well as “common objections raised by persons and jurisdictions that have not begun purchasing and using new large school buses equipped with three-point lap-shoulder belts.”

Additionally, the paper’s introduction notes that many states and local jurisdictions already require lap-shoulder belts in new school buses. As other states, school districts, school bus contractors, and charter and private schools nationwide consider whether to make three-point belts a requirement in new school buses, the paper also offers guidance on making that decision.

The paper concludes that lap-shoulder belts must be combined with a mandatory use policy and employee and student training on how to use the seat belts, and that state directors of pupil transportation should educate lawmakers on the safety record of school buses and additional safety benefits provided by lap-shoulder belts, and the need to ensure funding and service requirements support the availability of school buses.

LaRocco also noted in the message to members that “While navigating the pandemic is our highest current priority, NASDPTS remains committed to its longstanding efforts to address myriad other aspects of transportation safety. Key among those is passenger crash protection.”  

Read the position paper.

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