The word that best describes what student transportation professionals are all about is “Safety.” Safety is a concept with many moving parts, and nowadays, more than ever, it includes the health of drivers, students, and communities.
Side by side with the National School Transportation Association and the National Association for Pupil Transportation, NASDPTS has been working to provide information and measures to assist student transporters in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. The STARTS Task Force (Student Transportation Aligned for Return To School) is beginning its work to develop and deploy best practices and a road map that states, school districts, and contractors will be able to use when developing their local plans for how and when students can again be transported safely to and from schools. For more information, please contact the Task Force via its central email address at STARTS@napt.org.
While navigating the pandemic is our highest current priority, NASDPTS remains committed to its longstanding efforts to address myriad other aspects of transportation safety. Key among those is passenger crash protection. Today, the association is releasing a new Position Paper, “Lap/Shoulder Belts in School Buses.” It was approved by the NASDPTS Board of Directors on May 27, 2020, following receipt of comments from state directors, under the association’s adopted procedures. The paper supersedes and replaces the Position Paper, “The Equipping and Use of Passenger Lap/Shoulder Belts in School Buses,” released in 2014.
NASDPTS’ long history of support for the safety value of lap/shoulder belts in school buses to augment compartmentalization is outlined within the new paper. The paper unequivocally states, “NASDPTS fully supports requiring the installation and use of lap/shoulder belts in all new school buses.” It includes an extensive discussion of the basis for our support and the common objections raised by persons and jurisdictions that have not begun purchasing and using new large school buses equipped with three-point lap/shoulder belts.
We encourage you to review the new position paper and distribute it to others as you deem appropriate. Our goal is to encourage robust, fact based discussions and policies, based on the latest research and recommendations from NASDPTS and other associations and agencies.
The paper concludes with the recommendation that, “State directors of pupil transportation and leaders of state pupil transportation associations should work in concert to ensure that legislators and other state policy makers are educated on the existing safety record of school buses. Their discussions should emphasize the added safety benefits provided by lap/shoulder belts and the need to ensure that funding levels and service requirements support the availability of school buses to serve parents’ and students’ needs.”
Please let any of us at NASDPTS know if you have questions or comments. Thank you for your dedication to student safety.