Calls to Upgrade to Lap-Shoulder Belts Get Louder

Posted on: June 25th, 2018 by Staff

The list of national organizations making their support for lap-shoulder seat belts on school buses crystal clear continues to grow more impressive and harder to ignore. The NTSB is the latest to definitively add their name.

“We have always tiptoed around the issue of seat belt usage [and] lap-shoulder belts in school buses,” NTSB Board Chairman Robert Sumwalt admitted during a recent board meeting regarding investigations into high profile school bus crashes in Baltimore and Chattanooga. The NTSB went on to recommend 42 states with no current seat belt requirement, “enact legislation to require all new large school buses be equipped with passenger lap-shoulder belts for all passenger seating positions.”

For states like New York, New Jersey, Florida, and Louisiana that already mandate seat belts, the NTSB recommended an upgrade in requirements from lap belts to lap-shoulder belts. Equipping new buses with three-point belts is the common approach for upgrading a fleet over time, but districts wanting to be proactive with their existing buses have options, especially if their buses are made by IC Bus. For all buses 2010 and younger, IC features the BTI seating system which allows for a quick and easily upgrade from lap belts to lap-shoulder belts or integrated child seats by switching seat backs. A full retrofit is unnecessary.

While the NTSB went on record with their firmest statement of support yet, it should be noted they are actually a long-time proponent of lap-shoulder belts on school buses and have done more to advocate for them than any other government agency or organization. They’ve studied crashes firsthand, run the simulations, and have scientific proof seat belts on school buses make a difference. In recent years, the NTSB even went so far as to produce a video on the benefits of wearing seat belts on school buses. Their findings and statements following the devastating November 2017 crashes in Baltimore and Chattanooga put to rest any doubt where they stand on the issue.

And they are not alone. NHTSA, NASDPTS, The American Academy of Pediatrics, The National Safety Council, The National PTA, and millions of parents want seat belts on school buses. Three-point belts are proven to save lives and reduce injuries in school bus crashes, especially when compartmentalization fails in side impacts and rollovers. These organizations have studied the issue extensively, have separated fact from fiction, and have seen that adding lap-shoulder belts does not reduce capacity, slow evacuations, or add potential weapons to a school bus. What lap-shoulder belts do is better protect students, with the added benefits of reducing bullying, improving behavior, decreasing driver distraction, and improving driver satisfaction at a time when drivers are in high demand.

Many school buses now travel further than ever on interstates and highways where they run at greater speeds surrounded by vehicles just as large and heavy as they are. The days of school buses sticking only to slow side streets is over, and children need more protection as a result than they did ten and twenty years ago. School transportation has changed, and the NTSB recognizes that the methods used to protect students need to evolve as well.

As Chairman Sumwalt said numerous times during the meeting, “Safety demands oversight that puts lives first.” Doing so means following the NTSB’s new recommendation and installing or upgrading to lap-shoulder belts on our nation’s school buses.

New Indiana Rule Enhances Safety for Youngest Passengers

Posted on: March 19th, 2018 by Staff

You may want to prepare for a safety directive underway in one state that could soon cascade across the country. A new regulation in Indiana Administrative Code enhances the safety of the youngest children who ride school buses. The reason for the regulation, the increased safety its implementation will provide, and what restraints are recommended, are worth diving into.

The new rule went into effect January 1, 2018, and states that any pre-K child riding in a school bus in Indiana must be secured in a proper age, weight, and size FMVSS 213 compliant child restraint system. When you think about all the children in public school or private childcare programs, this literally affects thousands of young children. This directive does not, however, apply to children attending kindergarten, elementary, middle, or high school.

Compartmentalization was never designed and doesn’t work to protect pre-K children on the bus. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found children weighing less than 50 pounds need more protection than compartmentalization provides. Why? Because their bodies have not physically developed enough to handle the impact to the seat in front of them without causing internal injuries.

For compartmentalization to be most effective, a child also needs to be sitting in proper position – upright and forward-facing. For most pre-K children, this is an unrealistic expectation. They tend to lay down on the seat, sit sideways, or in some cases, move around. CSRS, Child Safety Restraint Systems, are the solution to better protect these passengers, and there are several options available.

Three children sit on a school bus seat in their SafeGuard SuperSTARS.The first, school bus specific add-on child restraint systems, are the most popular. Like the SafeGuard STAR or SuperSTAR, they attach to the bus seat using straps called the cam wrap, which wraps over the seat back and sometimes under the seat cushion. These restraints are lightweight, portable, and take up little space. Some are even available for children weighing up to 90 pounds and may offer options for additional upper body support needed for some students.

Safety vests and safety harnesses are other common options for school buses. These restraints also attach to the school bus seat by means of a cam wrap. They are frequently used for special needs applications in school buses and even passenger cars.

Cam wraps negatively affect the performance of compartmentalization. That’s why NHTSA requires a label that states the seat behind the cam wrap must either be unoccupied or used only by a passenger who is also restrained by a CSRS or seat belt.

Another choice is the integrated child seat, or built-in child restraint. This restraint is built into the seat with a 5-point harness. They are easy to use, and no installation is needed. A flap covering the child restraint folds down to create the seating surface. Just as with regular car seats, these can be adjusted for snugness, height, and do have weight and size limitations.

The last option is conventional car seats, but they are limited by the fact that they must be installed using a seat belt or LATCH and may be difficult to install on a school bus seat. However, when transporting infants, the rear-facing infant passenger car seat is the only option available.

While your state may not have a law mandating the use of CSRS yet, knowing about Indiana’s efforts to better protect their youngest school bus riders can help your district do the same.

School Bus Safety 101

Posted on: August 9th, 2013 by admin

On Thursday, August 8, IMMI, the manufacturer of SafeGuard seats hosted “SafeGuard: School Bus Safety 101.” Indiana Congresswoman Susan Brooks, school officials, federal safety representatives, parents, and law enforcement leaders were presented with the facts and misinformation surrounding school buses and lap-shoulder belts. They all witnessed a live crash demonstration of a school bus into our CAPE facility‘s barrier wall.

The result? A realization that there are No More Excuses. School buses remain the safest form of transportation, but let’s make them safer. Lap-shoulder belts reduce injuries, reduce driver distraction, and improve bad behavior on school buses. In addition to this article, please refer to this infographic that will help provide the additional information you may be seeking.

If you would like to revisit other topics covered during this event, we live-tweeted on Twitter using the #BusSafety101 hashtag, so feel free to read through and catch up on what happened.

 

 

 

Seems like common sense to want seat belts on school buses, right? What’s stopping the safety trend? There are several forms of misinformation out there that we are dispelling.

MYTH #1. Compartmentalization (higher seat backs and extra seat padding) is enough to protect students in school buses.
“School buses are the safest form of transportation with many government manufacturing standards,” IMMI Vice President James Johnson assured the guests. “But the current standards do not adequately protect students in the event of a side roll or a rollover crash event.” Compartmentalization, in other words, does well when the school bus is in a frontal or a rear crash, but it has some huge safety weaknesses.

How glaring is the safety issue of a side roll/rollover crash in a school bus without seat belts? Here are two videos to demonstrate the need for lap-shoulder seat belts to prevent serious injuries in these events.

 

Fact #1: Compartmentalization, while effective, is not enough protection for students on school buses.

MYTH #2: Seat belts on school buses slow down evacuations.

This simply isn’t true. With over 200,000 of our SafeGuard seats in use today, we surveyed and interviewed students, bus drivers, transportation directors and board members. Drivers told us that even during an accident on their bus, it wasn’t the seat belts that slowed students downit was the bottleneck that occurred at the exit points (the rear door, front door, and window exits).

FACT #2: Seat belts HELP evacuations. An uninjured child can evacuate more quickly than an injured, or unconscious child.

MYTH #3: Seat belts can be used as weapons on the school bus.

While this may have been true with the older-style lap belts, our SafeGuard lap-shoulder belts are RETRACTABLE. The seat belt webbing (strap) retracts into the seat back, as they do in your car. The buckles are lightweight, making them virtually impossible to be used as weapons. Seat belts as weapons? It’s just not true anymore.

In fact, our customers have reported that the behavior on their school buses equipped with SafeGuard lap-shoulder belts (and an enforced usage policy) has drastically improved. When students are required to stay seated and facing forward, it makes for a better behaved bus, less reported incidents of bullying, and increased safety.

FACT #3: Seat belts actually improve behavior in the school bus, and they CANNOT be used as weapons.

See for yourself. Check out this video in which bus drivers, transportation directors, and school officials describe their experiences with SafeGuard lap-shoulder belts.