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NAPT Advocates Scientific Approach to Seat Belt Issue PDF Print E-mail
Written by Janna Smeltzer   
Friday, 08 August 2008 00:00

ALBANY, N.Y. — With the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s rulemaking on school bus occupant protection coming sometime in early 2009, NAPT applauded a forthcoming Alabama study on the practical aspects of installing lap/shoulder belts in large school buses, the first of its kind nationwide. But NHTSA, NAPT said, still has many questions to answer.

The Alabama study of 12 new buses equipped with various types of lap/shoulder belts and four video cameras each to capture information about student behavior and usage was announced by Gov. Bob Riley early last year in the wake of a Huntsville school bus plunging off of a freeway overpass and killing four female high school students just days prior to the 2006 Thanksgiving holiday. Parents and school officials also received questionnaires to get their views.

“Alabama is to be commended for adding much needed, common sense information to the body of knowledge. This, along with crash tests and data analysis, is critical and long overdue to help put to rest the question of whether school buses should have lap/shoulder belts,” said Bill Tousley, president of NAPT.

Meanwhile, Mike Martin, NAPT’s executive director, said NHTSA’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on school bus occupant protection issued last November left school bus operators confused. The administration announced last month a final rule would be published later this winter.

“They did not propose a requirement for safety belts in large school buses, but said they were a ‘best practice,’” he recounted. “But there was no science to substantiate that claim, and the full range of practical concerns were not even addressed.”

NAPT rebutted NHTSA proposal by requesting data from dynamic testing that would substantiate the agency’s “best practice” recommendation. In an announcement earlier this week, NAPT further called on NHTSA “to conduct comprehensive dynamic crash testing and a complete situational analysis.” In February 2007, NAPT formally petitioned NHTSA to provide a definitive, science-based answer to the emotionally-charged public debate. NAPT also urged NHTSA to consider and recommend any other approaches that might further improve safety, conduct research to make sure that adding belts would not cause any unexpected injuries, and consider operational realities of pupil transportation.

 

Last Updated on Friday, 23 October 2009 19:53