School Bus Fleet

October 2014

A management & maintenance magazine for school transportation fleets

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54 S C H O O L B U S F L E E T • O C T O B E R 2 0 1 4 NAPT news & views document NSTA and NAPT will ref- erence whenever we are asked for our "position" on belts in school buses. And we believe the following are statements from that document that stand out: • "NHTSA has considered the question of whether seat belts should be required on large school buses from the inception of compartmen- talization and the school bus safety standards and has reassessed its de- cisions repeatedly. Each time, after analyzing the implications of a seat belt requirement and all available in- formation, we have concluded that a seat belt requirement for large school buses has not been shown to be war- ranted." • "In large school buses, fatal roll- over crashes are rare (approximate- ly 1 crash per year, resulting in 2 fa- talities annually), as are fatal side impact crashes in which seat belts would have prevented death or seri- ous injury. Fatal non-rollover frontal crashes in large school buses are un- common (less than 1 crash per year). Large school buses are already very safe vehicles. More important ... re- quiring seat belts on large school buses is likely to have the effect of increasing fatalities related to school transportation." • "After considering all views [in- cluding a recommendation by the NTSB — H-99-46], we could not again for clarity on their perspective, and for additional crash testing to document benefts/unintended con- sequences of belt use. NHTSA made it clear they are not planning to do additional crash test- ing of school buses using anthropo- morphic test dummies (ATDs) and said, "NHTSA believes that both ATD test data and real world crash data of occupant kinematics and associated injuries, if available, are important to obtain a better understanding of re- straint performance." NHTSA also said, "Where human response and in- jury outcome in a crash environment are available, we consider both sourc- es of information (ATD test data and real world crash data) when evaluat- ing restraint performance." In addition, NAPT and NSTA were informed that the agency's best ad- vice 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 (CAS) and others re- questing that NHTSA mandate seat belts in large school buses. We urge you to read the entire peti- tion denial notice carefully; it can be found via this link: PetitionDenial. From this point forward, the NHTSA petition denial is, and will remain unless it is superseded, the The call for belts on buses seems to ebb and fow each year, with the tide rising each fall when a new group of children begin rid- ing the school bus. Their parents won- der why the children are required to buck- le up in the family car but not in their school bus. While this view has strong com- mon-sense appeal, the National School Transportation As- sociation (NSTA) and the National Association for Pu- pil Transportation (NAPT) — unlike others — have been and remain unwill- ing to embrace the mainly emotional rationale it em- bodies. Instead, we have held the position throughout our participa- tion in federal rulemaking regarding seat belts and discussions with fed- eral offcials that the National High- way Traffc Safety Administration (NHTSA) should conduct research, evaluate the results and then clearly explain the information so everyone can understand it. NAPT even formally petitioned NHTSA several years ago to do re- search and make recommendations that would enhance or even replace the current standards for school bus occupant crash protection and per- haps even lead to the next evolution in school bus occupant safety. They denied our request. In the wake of recent recommenda- tions from the National Transporta- tion Safety Board (NTSB) [see NAPT News & Views, SBF January 2014 is- sue, pg. 46], NSTA and NAPT met re- cently with NHTSA offcials, asking Seat belts on buses? You decide (BY DON CARNAHAN AND TIM FLOOD) Don Carnahan is president of NAPT. After analyzing the implications of a seat belt requirement and all available information, we have concluded that a seat belt requirement for large school buses has not been shown to be warranted. National Highway Traffc Safety Administration Denial of Petition for Rulemaking Aug. 25, 2011 Tim Flood is presi- dent of NSTA.

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