School Bus Fleet

July 2014

A management & maintenance magazine for school transportation fleets

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60 S C H O O L B U S F L E E T • J U L Y 2 0 1 4 the last word SCHOOL BUS FLEET (ISSN 0036-6501) (USPS 483-800) is published monthly, except for May and November by Bobit Business Media, 3520 Challenger Street, Torrance, California 90503-1640. Periodicals postage paid at Torrance, California 90503-1640 and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to School Bus Fleet, P.O. Box 1068 Skokie, IL 60076-8068. Please allow 6 to 8 weeks for address changes to take effect. Subscription Prices - United States $25 per year; Canada $30 per year; Foreign $75 per year. Single copy price - $4; Fact Book - $25. Please allow 6 to 8 weeks to receive your first issue. Bobit Business Media reserves the right to refuse non-qualified subscriptions. Please address Editorial and Advertising correspondence to the Executive Offices at 3520 Challenger Street, Torrance, California 90503-1640. The contents of this publication may not be reproduced either in whole or in part without consent of Bobit Business Media. All statements made, although based on information believed to be reliable and accurate, cannot be guaranteed and no fault or liability can be accepted for error or omission. For your Information: We sometimes make our subscriber information (i.e. fax, e-mail or mailing address) available to carefully screened organizations whose products and services may be of interest to you. If you prefer not to have your information made available, please write School Bus Fleet, P.O. Box 1068 Skokie, IL 60076-8068. I n my April/May issue column ("Compartmentalization plus," pg. 60), I argued that lap- shoulder belts can work togeth- er with compartmentalization to enhance the safety of school bus passengers. If you've followed the indus- try's debate on seat belts in school buses over the years, you won't be surprised that my latest editorial on the top- ic drew dozens of responses from readers — many against my stance, some in favor. I'll share some highlights of those re- sponses, but frst I want to point out that I was remiss in my editorial in not noting the perspectives of two key industry groups: the National Association for Pupil Trans- portation (NAPT) and the National School Transportation Association (NSTA). Those two associations collaborated on a response to recent National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommendations. In their letter, NAPT and NSTA call for "a science-based rather than emotion-driven or 'directionally correct' conclusion to the question of whether safety belts would de- fnitively improve school bus passenger crash protection." The associations maintain that the Na- tional Highway Traffc Safety Administra- tion (NHTSA) should conduct comprehen- sive school bus crash testing to determine whether an upgrade to compartmentaliza- tion is needed. Also, NAPT and NSTA note discrepancies in statements that NHTSA and the NTSB have made on the topic of school bus seat belts. "We cannot in good faith advise our members, or the public, on this issue until the signifcant and conficting policy differ- ences between the two federal safety agen- cies are resolved, hopefully with the added science of dynamic crash testing," the associations say in their letter to NTSB, which is available at and Now, here is a sampling of re- plies to my "Compartmentaliza- tion plus" editorial. Go to School to read the full array of opinions and add your own. • "It really is an issue of either compartmen- talization or lap-shoulder belts. … Once you go the route of lap-shoulder, you are no longer able to rely on compartmental- ization. The seats are more rigid and do not provide the same 'cushioning' beneft that non-seat belt seats provide." • "I have experienced a bus fuel leak evacu- ation with approximately 30 students. … I can only imagine the increased chaos we would have experienced if everyone was trying to get out of a lap-shoulder belt." • "I believe lap-shoulder belts could def- nitely enhance safety and, if used proper- ly, could improve student behavior. I also believe the concerns … have merit. In an emergency, evacuating a bus would be- come much more diffcult and time con- suming. … [The] pros and cons need to be thoroughly studied." • "I am in full support of lap-shoulder belts. It does not matter if everyone uses them, but I'd like my grandsons to be able to make the choice of having the ex- tra protection. That said, our industry is not killing kids inside the bus, but rath- er stats show kids and adults are more prone to being seriously injured or killed outside the bus. … Let's concentrate on educating everyone about the dangers outside the bus." By Frank Di Giacomo, VP, Bus and Rail/Publisher Differing views on seat belt issue If you've followed the debate on seat belts in school buses over the years, you won't be surprised that my latest editorial on the topic drew dozens of responses.

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