Something momentous happened today in the drive to see America’s children protected on their school buses with lap-shoulder belts.
Speaking before school transportation directors from across the country at the NAPT conference, NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind went on record with NHTSA’s clear recommendation of lap-shoulder seat belts on school buses.
“Seat belts save lives. That is true whether in a car or yellow school bus,” Rosekind said. “School buses should have seat belts. Period.”
Many of those opposed to seat belts on school buses often claim NHTSA is against them by misquoting a former NHTSA ruling. While NHTSA is stopping short of a mandate, in all likelihood to protect cash strapped districts from such an expense at this time, no one can continue to deny that the biggest regulatory automotive agency in the country is onboard with adding lap-shoulder belts to school buses.
With NHTSA’s endorsement, now more than ever is the time to push your district to do the right thing. We still have plenty of work to do, but one of the oppositions’ main talking points has been clearly and irrevocably demolished. One less excuse stands in our way as we advocate to make school buses as safe as they can be for our kids.
Earlier this year, Westfield Washington Schools decided it was time for seat belts on school buses. Where they started with them could be a model for other school districts to follow.
Westfield wisely began their foray into seat belts with their travel buses. These buses don’t stick to neighborhood roads but travel on the interstates and highways. Field trips, sporting events, and school activities often require school buses to travel farther, at significantly higher speeds, and often in heavy traffic surrounded by large semi trucks. For Westfield, it just made sense to start with lap-shoulder belts here. Lori Hutson, a local mother, agreed. “I like that idea. The kids are traveling further and further to sporting events as Westfield grows to compete with those larger schools. So I think that’s a huge, huge benefit to have that.”
According to the NHTSA, seat belts save lives and reduce injuries up to 50%. New technology has now made lap-shoulder belts, just like the ones in millions of cars, available on school buses. Lori appreciates that her school district is looking out for her kids by equipping their six travel buses with seat belts. “I was pretty excited about it even though my kids are older. They still take the buses to after school sporting events. With my oldest son, he’s on the wrestling team, so a lot of their events are far away and take place on the weekend. They travel I-65 and that gets a little nerve wracking knowing how many accidents take place on that road.”
IMMI, owner of SafeGuard seats, created a video for Westfield Washington Schools to help teach kids how to properly buckle up on the school bus. Featuring local teachers, locations, and lots and lots of Westfield kids, “Groovy Bus” will help kids correctly buckle up for years to come. “My son and my niece both did it,” Lori said, “and they had a blast doing it. After seeing the video put together they thought it was a pretty catchy tune. Every once in a while I’ll catch him kind of humming it,” she laughed. “But I thought it was really cute. I thought it was fun. I thought it was very instructional on how to do the seat belts.
“IMMI is excited to provide a fun, catchy video featuring many of Westfield’s own to help Westfield Washington Schools train their students on this new, beneficial safety feature on their travel buses,” said Tom Anthony, president and owner of IMMI. “The district’s commitment to better protect children on these buses that often travel on the interstate at higher rates of speed is commendable and forward-thinking, and we’re proud to partner with them in this endeavor.”
The “Groovy Bus” song will also be given to other school districts that have SafeGuard lap-shoulder belts on their buses, so that they can put their own creative and unique production into it. You can check out the “Groovy Bus” video below.
For the first time, SafeGuard4Kids attended the National PTA Convention. Held in Charlotte, North Carolina, the convention brought together PTA delegates from all over the country. While we can make noise about bringing lap-shoulder belts to school buses, and we can strike down the misinformation out there about them, the only people who can truly bring about change are the kind of men and women we met this past week.
Our team really didn’t know what to expect from our first convention, but we were blown away by the passion and commitment of the people we met. So many told us they’d wanted lap-shoulder belts on school buses for years, but they weren’t sure what they needed to do to make it happen. We were happy to give them the tools and resources their districts need to bring about this important safety upgrade to their school buses, and we are honored to partner with people who are willing to advocate so strongly for the improved safety of our nation’s children.
Thank you to everyone who stopped by our booth to chat and to learn the benefits about SafeGuard lap-shoulder belts on school buses. We hope the convention was as rewarding for you as it was for us, and we look forward to seeing you next year!
As I write this blog post, there is a beautiful fresh coat of snow on the ground. Winter has officially arrived, albeit a little early. We also got a little ice as an “added bonus.” More is in the forecast for today, but most of our schools are sticking to their regular schedules. That means many school buses will likely be navigating some tricky road conditions as they bring children home this afternoon. Bus drivers may face additional challenges on the streets that haven’t been plowed or salted, and with a bus full of rowdy children who just want to get home and play outside, I don’t envy them.
This time of year, it’s par for the course, or should I say, road. School buses have to make their way through snow and ice. We’ve all seen the news reports where one or more of them in our districts have slid off or been in an accident. Sometimes they even overturn when a tire leaves the road and suddenly the driver finds the bus tipping into a ditch the snow obscured a half second before. At SafeGuard®, we always want children to have the added protection seat belts on the school bus can bring, but in the winter time, imagine the difference they could make. Bus drivers can better focus on slippery roads. Students would be seated properly rather than in positions that could increase their chances of being injured.
SafeGuard recently conducted two separate events to demonstrate what happens in a frontal crash when students are out of position. The results were alarming. Compartmentalization is intended to save their lives, but in an accident, the results can still lead to concussions and spinal cord injuries when the children are slammed into the seats and other students. Watch what happened at SafeGuard’s most recent crash test event. The out of position “students” did not fare well, while those in seat belts were considerably more protected.
The bus was only going 30mph, and this was a frontal crash, the kind of crash where compartmentalization is supposed to work best. Now imagine how badly it could fail when a bus slides off an icy road and rolls over.
Driving a bus is a tough job made more difficult by snow and ice. When I hear people say that compartmentalization is safe enough, I wonder if they would still agree after experiencing crashes like these first hand. I’m sure for the parents whose children suffer bloody noses, concussions and even worse from the very system designed to protect them might agree that “good enough” is not enough. Not when their children could have potentially been spared such injuries had then been wearing seat belts.
There are No More Excuses® — it’s time for seat belts on school buses. With this inforgraphic below, you’ll find out the new statistics and innovations around school buses seat belts as well as the most common misconceptions on the bottom half of the graphic.
Want more information on School Bus Safety? Click here & here for articles we’ve written on the topic.
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