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.