Christopher Hart has been an NAPT Summit fixture for the past several years. The heir to Deborah Hersman as chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board in 2012, Hart first spoke to NAPT attendees and those attending the concurrent NASDPTS Annual Meeting while still serving as vice-chairman, namely about the need for lap-shoulder seat belts on school buses, as well as collision warning systems, lane departure systems and active braking and adaptive.
NTSB has called on NAPT, along with NSTA and NASDPTS, to provide its members with educational materials on lap-shoulder belts providing the highest level of occupant protection, and to advise states or districts to consider the technology when purchasing new buses.
But Hart’s and NTSB’s views on three-point seat belts, and that all school buses should have them because they improve compartmentalization during some frontal, side-impact and rollover crashes, conflict with the NAPT’s official stance that saying they "cannot in good faith" advise their members on proper installation because of "significant and confliction policy differences" at the federal level and the lack of the latest in scientific testing. NAPT also has said its members question if improving compartmentalization is a good use of funds.
Hart returns to NAPT on Nov. 9 in Richmond, Virginia, and will be joined by former NTSB board member and current NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind a day earlier to discuss how the safety of the yellow bus could be even greater with technology. Over the summer, Rosekind called a meeting to discuss school bus safety and promised an announcement this fall that would provide “operational and policy challenges and solutions,” as well as “innovative funding approaches” to lap-shoulder belts.
"NAPT strongly encourages Chairman Hart and particularly Administrator Rosekind to explain clearly and unambiguously to local officials across the country why optional equipment like seat belts should be selected over other available choices that might also improve school transportation safety,” said NAPT President Keith Henry in a statement.
He added that NHTSA has previously said that “requiring seat belts on large school buses is likely to have the effect of increasing fatalities related to school transportation” when it revised FMVSS 222 in 2009. Additional NHTSA analysis, Henry continued, indicated that “...a national lap/shoulder belt requirement for large school buses could result in an increase of 10 to 19 student fatalities annually in the US.”
"We very much look forward to hearing, reading, analyzing and discussing what they have to say in Richmond," added NAPT Executive Director Mike Martin.