HomeSeatbeltsBlue Bird Announces Standard Lap/Shoulder Seatbelts on All School Buses

Blue Bird Announces Standard Lap/Shoulder Seatbelts on All School Buses

School bus manufacturer Blue Bird made history as the first OEM to announce lap/shoulder seatbelts as standard safety technology in all its vehicles.

Starting this fall, Blue Bird in partnership with IMMI will begin equipping new school buses with three-point seatbelts for all student passengers, along with other safety features.

Britton Smith, president of Blue Bird Corporation, made the announcement on Thursday at a hosted event at the IMMI facility in Westfield, Indiana. Smith added the seatbelts will result in “no additional costs” to customers and a press release confirms that other seat options will still be available to meet specific customer needs.

Britton Smith, president of Blue Bird Corporation, speaks on new standard safety features during an event at IMMI in Westfield, Indiana, on June 13, 2024. 

More standard equipment Blue Bird is touting as industry-first technology is the introduction of 4Front, a steering wheel deployed airbag to protect the head and torso of school bus drivers during a crash. IMMI said the airbag will include a supplemental restraint system sensor that activates during severe frontal crashes. It will activate all pyrotechnic devices, perform real-time diagnostics of all critical subsystems, and will record inputs immediately before and during the crash.

Blue Bird will also be implementing other safety improvements such as high-intensity LED lighting on the outside and inside of the bus, high-resolution front and rear cameras from Rosco Vision Systems, lighted stop-arms and school bus signs, and strobe lights. The OEM is also implementing a collision mitigation system to the already current standard electronic stability control.

Several stakeholders spoke at the event, including college student Caroline Wells, who suffered a concussion during a school bus crash.

“This is a historic event,” commented Dr. Mark Rosekind, the 15th administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, who presided over the 2015 federal mandate for lap/shoulder seatbelts in all small school buses and the recommendation that they be implemented for large school buses. “Blue Bird deserves huge credit. Every bus manufacturer should have three-point belts on them. This is what real safety leadership looks like. Lives will be saved in the future.”

Related: Texas School District Adopts Accelerated Seatbelt Plan Following Fatal Bus Crash
Related: Ohio School Bus Safety Recommendations Call for Technology Funding, No Seatbelt Mandate
Related: IMMI School Bus Crash Test Rounds Out STN EXPO Indy

Britton added, “For nearly a century, our children’s safety has been our business. We proudly carry millions of school children every year, the most precious cargo in the world. Today we raise the bar even higher for student transportation by announcing the most comprehensive safety upgrades to our school buses in our history.”

IMMI CEO Larry Gray said the company is “thrilled to partner with iconic school bus manufacturer Blue Bird as their new seating and advanced safety supplier. School buses carry millions of school children every day and literally our nation’s future. We applaud Blue Bird for its bold leadership to make lap-shoulder belts standard safety equipment, while also leading the way to better protect drivers.”

The event concluded with a school bus crash demonstration.

Crash test demonstration at the IMMI facility in Westfield, Indiana on June 13, 2024.

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