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There a quite a few facts regarding school bus safety that need to be shared with government leaders at the county, state, and federal levels.
•Fact: Every day nearly half a million school buses take over 20 million children to school, school activities, and school sporting events.
•From 2011 to 2020 there were 218 school age children who died in school, transportation related crashes and 44 were occupants of school transportation vehicles according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
•School buses are the safest form of school transportation in the US. Deaths and injuries to children riding school buses could be reduced even more, however, if children were required to wear three-point seatbelts on school buses, as seatbelts further enhance protection already provided by compartmentalization.
•While laws across the nation require passengers in cars to buckle up, federal regulations only require seatbelts on small school buses under 10,000 pounds. Only 12 states have passed a variety of laws requiring school buses to be equipped with seatbelts.
•Nonprofit organizations, including the National Safety Council, and the American Academy of Pediatrics have for years encouraged the use of seatbelts on school buses.
•The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has “recommended” that all new school buses be required to be equipped with three-point lap and shoulder belt, collision, avoidance systems, and automatic emergency braking technologies.
•The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration “recommends” the use of stop-arm cameras to reduce the illegal passing of school buses and increase stop arm compliance.
The Traffic Safety Committee of the National Sheriffs Association, on which have served for nearly a decade, has recommended the following position be adopted at the earliest possible time.
•That The National Sheriff’s Association call upon Congress and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to adopt regulations, mandating collision avoidance system, and automatic emergency braking technologies to be standard equipment on all new school buses.
•The National Sheriff’s Association encourages school districts and bus operators to consider the safety potential for purchasing new school buses equipped with three-point seatbelts and stop-arm cameras, and/or retrofitting existing school buses wherever and wherever possible.
The National Sheriff’s Association and I will call upon Congress and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to adopt regulations, mandating collision avoidance systems and automatic emergency braking technologies to be standard equipment on all new school buses in all 50 states, and to retrofit all existing school buses, whenever and wherever possible.
Texas law requires school districts to ensure that new school buses have three-point shoulder-to-seat seatbelts, subject to approval by local jurisdictions. Also, school districts and local governments are allowed to install school bus cameras to capture moving violations related to stopping for school buses.
Please feel free to reach out to the following US governmental agencies where you can voice your support in adopting regulations mandating three-point safety belts, collision avoidance systems, and automatic emergency braking technology to be standard equipment for the new school buses.
•National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (888-327-4236))
•National Safety Council (800-621-7615)
•National Transportation Safety Board (202-314-6000)
Another effective means of bringing about change at the federal level is to contact your elected senators and representatives. If you are unsure of who represents you at the federal level, use the following links to locate your representatives:
•The U.S. Senate: www.senate.gov
•The House of representatives: www.house.gov
When I mentioned previously that we all need to sound the alarm with our government leaders I do not mean just to make them aware of these facts, but demand that action be taken, culminating in laws being enacted nationwide to provide for the safety of our children.
Greg Capers is Sheriff of San Jacinto County.