Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation H-13-036
Details
Synopsis: On Thursday, February 16, 2012, about 8:15 a.m. eastern standard time, near Chesterfield, New Jersey, a Garden State Transport Corporation 2012 IC Bus, LLC, school bus was transporting 25 kindergarten–sixth-grade students to Chesterfield Elementary School. The bus was traveling north on Burlington County Road (BCR) 660 through the intersection with BCR 528, while a Herman’s Trucking Inc. 2004 Mack roll-off1 truck with a fully loaded dump container was traveling east on BCR 528, approaching the intersection. The school bus driver had stopped at the flashing red traffic beacon and STOP sign. As the bus pulled away from just forward of the white stop line on BCR 660 and entered the intersection, it failed to yield to the truck and was struck behind the left rear axle. The bus rotated nearly 180 degrees and subsequently struck a traffic beacon support pole. One bus passenger was killed. Five bus passengers sustained serious injuries, 10 bus passengers and the bus driver received minor injuries, and nine bus passengers and the truck driver were uninjured. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determines that the probable cause of the Chesterfield, New Jersey, crash was the school bus driver’s failure to observe the Mack roll-off truck, which was approaching the intersection within a hazardous proximity. Contributing to the school bus driver’s reduced vigilance were cognitive decrements due to fatigue as a result of acute sleep loss, chronic sleep debt, and poor sleep quality, in combination with, and exacerbated by, sedative side effects from his use of prescription medications. Contributing to the severity of the crash was the truck driver’s operation of his vehicle in excess of the posted speed limit, in addition to his failure to ensure that the weight of the vehicle was within allowable operating restrictions. Further contributing to the severity of the crash were the defective brakes on the truck and its overweight condition due to poor vehicle oversight by Herman’s Trucking, along with improper installation of the lift axle brake system by the final stage manufacturer—all of which degraded the truck’s braking performance. Contributing to the severity of passenger injuries were the nonuse or misuse of school bus passenger lap belts; the lack of passenger protection from interior sidewalls, sidewall components, and seat frames; and the high lateral and rotational forces in the back portion of the bus.
Recommendation: TO THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF STATE DIRECTORS OF PUPIL TRANSPORTATION SERVICES, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR PUPIL TRANSPORTATION, AND NATIONAL SCHOOL TRANSPORTATION ASSOCIATION: Provide your members with educational materials on lap and shoulder belts providing the highest level of protection for school bus passengers, and advise states or school districts to consider this added safety benefit when purchasing seat belt-equipped school buses.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Open Acceptable Alternate Response
Mode: Highway
Location: Chesterfield, NJ, United States
Is Reiterated: Yes
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: HWY12MH007
Accident Reports: School Bus and Truck Collision at Intersection
Report #: HAR-13-01
Accident Date: 2/16/2012
Issue Date: 9/9/2013
Date Closed:
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: National Association for Pupil Transportation (Open Acceptable Alternate Response)
National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (Closed - Acceptable Action)
National School Transportation Association (Open Acceptable Alternate Response)
Keyword(s):

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services
Date: 4/6/2017
Response: In addition to the position paper that you previously distributed to your members regarding the benefits of choosing lap and shoulder seat belts when purchasing new school buses, we are pleased to learn that your school bus seat belt use guidelines were adopted by the NCST and incorporated into the 2015 revision of the National School Transportation Specifications and Procedures. We further note that you provided the updated information to your members, as recommended. We commend your efforts to address Safety Recommendation H-13-36, which is classified CLOSED--ACCEPTABLE ACTION.

From: National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services
To: NTSB
Date: 2/6/2017
Response: -From Charlie Hood, Executive Director: In 2013, the NTSB issued Highway Accident Report NTSB/HAR-13/01, School Bus and Truck Collision at Intersection Near Chesterfield, New Jersey, February 16, 2012. The report focused on a crash in which a school bus transporting 25 elementary age students pulled into the path of a large, fully loaded roll-off truck. One bus passenger was killed. Five bus passengers sustained serious injuries, 10 passengers and the bus driver received minor injuries, and nine passengers and the truck driver were uninjured. Contributing to the severity of passenger injuries were the nonuse or misuse of available school bus passenger lap belts; the lack of passenger protection from interior sidewalls, sidewall components, and seat frames; and the high lateral and rotational forces in the back portion of the bus. The NTSB noted that injuries to the fatally injured occupant and examination of the lap belts in her row indicated that she was likely unbelted. The NTSB concluded that some students on the school bus wore their lap belts improperly or not at all. Included within the Chesterfield report were findings from a school bus crash in Port St. Lucie, Florida that occurred on March 26, 2012. A St. Lucie County School District bus turned left in front of a truck, which collided with the right side of the bus in the vicinity of the rear axle. As a result of the crash, one student passenger on the bus was fatally injured. The school bus driver and 19 other passengers received injuries of varying degrees. Like the school bus in the Chesterfield crash, the St. Lucie County Schools bus was also equipped with two-point lap belts. The NTSB concluded that in the Port St. Lucie crash, the combination of high forces, lack of upper body restraint, and loss of seating system integrity resulted in the fatal injuries to the one passenger who died. In the 2014 Anaheim crash, occupant simulations conducted by the NTSB indicated that lap/shoulder belted occupants had the best retention in their seats with the lowest potential for occupant-to-occupant contacts and occupant-to-interior contacts, which are common in severe lateral impacts involving unbelted school bus occupants. The simulations also indicated that while restrained with a lap/shoulder belt, the occupant seated nearest the area of intrusion (seat 8A) maintained a more upright position than that person would have maintained if restrained only by a lap belt. The NTSB concluded that the properly worn lap/shoulder belts of the two occupants of the row eight seats most likely reduced their injuries related to upper body flailing, which are commonly seen when occupants are restrained only by lap belts. Further, the NTSB concluded that the properly worn lap/shoulder belts reduced passenger motion toward the intruding tree, which probably reduced the severity of the injuries sustained, especially for the student in seat 8C. In addition to findings relating specifically to school bus passenger crash protection, the two reports contained significant information and details on other factors in the crashes, including some of those discussed in our responses to Safety Recommendations H-16-7 and H-15-2 herein. In the summaries above we have included only very concise descriptions of the circumstances relating to Safety Recommendation H-13-36; we encourage a more thorough review of the reports by interested parties. The above summaries, paraphrased from the NTSB reports, do not provide the full detail contained within the reports, but are included to provide context to the agency’s safety recommendation and our response, discussed below. NASDPTS agrees with and strongly supports this recommendation. NASDPTS has a long history of providing comments and analysis relating to improved passenger crash protection in school buses. In 2008, the association submitted comments to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), pursuant to its notice of proposed rulemaking to update Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 222, School Bus Seating and Passenger Crash Protection. In our comments, we encouraged NHTSA to mandate the installation of three-point lap/shoulder belts in all large school buses with commensurate funding. In February 2014, NASDPTS published and distributed to members a Position Paper, “The Equipping and Use of Passenger Lap/Shoulder Belts in School Buses.” The position paper included the NTSB Safety Recommendation H-13-36. The Position Statement portion of our position paper is as follows: Position Statement As an association with a primary leadership role in issues relating to student transportation safety, environmental responsibility, and access to education, NASDPTS fully supports state and local decisions for the installation and use of lap/shoulder belts in school buses. NASDPTS is not advocating that the installation and/or use of lap/shoulder belts be required by state or local jurisdictions without thorough consideration of available resources. NASDPTS believes this decision should be based on state or local need, but also believes lap/shoulder belt equipped seats should be encouraged as an option when considering new bus original equipment specifications. NASDPTS further believes that states and local jurisdictions should require proper usage by all students when belts are available and should provide related notices, training and enforcement. NASDPTS supports the NHTSA position stated in the 2007 NPRM that this local decision should not be made at the expense of students being displaced from school bus transportation. A state or local district that does decide to proceed with lap/ shoulder belts should consider the following points on usage arising from the NTSB report on the Chesterfield, New Jersey crash: • A usage policy must exist for buses equipped with passenger restraints. • A training program must exist for proper usage and adjustment of passenger restraints. • A training program must exist for evacuation that includes unbuckle drills. In 2015, NASDPTS proposed updates to the National School Transportation Specifications and Procedures that included 13 instances throughout the document of recommendations and graphical training materials for students and school bus drivers regarding proper wearing and use of both two-point lap belts and three-point lap/shoulder belts. The changes were adopted by the delegates and can be found within the published 2015 NSTSP. All members were notified of the publication of the NSTSP in October 2016. NASDPTS is copying this response concurrently to its state director members. We are also ensuring the NTSB receives a concurrent copy of our memorandum of transmittal to state directors.

From: NTSB
To: National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services
Date: 11/7/2016
Response: Reiterated in the Highway Accident Brief “School Bus Roadway Departure” Nohl Ranch Canyon Road, Anaheim, Orange County, California, April 24, 2014 Report Number: NTSB/HAB-16/06, published on November 7, 2016, Notation number 8782 In its 2013 Chesterfield report, the NTSB issued Safety Recommendation H-13-36 to the National Association for Pupil Transportation, National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services, and National School Transportation Association: Provide your members with educational materials on lap and shoulder belts providing the highest level of protection for school bus passengers, and advise states or school districts to consider this added safety benefit when purchasing seat belt-equipped school buses. (H-13-36) Safety Recommendation H-13-36 is classified “Open—Acceptable Alternate Response” for the National Association for Pupil Transportation and the National School Transportation Association. It is classified “Open–Acceptable Response” for the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services. Based on the evidence of the benefits provided by the properly worn lap/shoulder belts in this crash, the NTSB reiterates Safety Recommendation H-13-36 to all three recipients.

From: NTSB
To: National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services
Date: 2/10/2014
Response: We are encouraged by your plans to develop school bus seat belt use guidelines that you will (1) recommend for inclusion in the 2015 National School Transportation Specifications and Procedures, and (2) provide to your members. We also support your plan to use information from your seat belt system manufacturer and supplier partners in developing materials to advise states and school districts on the high level of protection provided by lap and shoulder belts. Pending completion of these actions, Safety Recommendations H-13-35 and -36 are classified OPEN—ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services
To: NTSB
Date: 12/6/2013
Response: -From Bob Riley, Executive Director: The National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) appreciates the opportunity to respond to National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Safety Recommendations H-13-35 and H-13-36 issued to NASDPTS, the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) and the National School Transportation Association (NSTA). The National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) was founded in 1968, and represents a cross section of individuals and organizations involved in the safe transportation of school children. As the Association’s name indicates, members include those individuals with the primary responsibility for school transportation in each state. In addition, school bus manufacturers and other industry suppliers, school transportation contractors, and state associations whose members include school transportation officials, drivers, trainers and technicians are also members of affiliated councils within the association. This diversity in membership combined with the day-to-day involvement of the state directors in policy matters, creates a unique perspective on pupil transportation issues. These recommendations address the development of (1) guidelines to assist schools in training bus drivers, students and parents on the importance and proper use of school bus restraint systems and including them in the next update of the National School Transportation Specifications and Procedures and (2) provide NASDPTS members with educational materials on lap and shoulder belts providing the highest level of protection for school bus passengers. NASDPTS is pleased to respond to those Safety Recommendations. It should be pointed out that NASDPTS, at its Annual Conference (October 2013) issued a Position Statement regarding lap/shoulder belts, “NASDPTS fully supports the installation and use of lap/shoulder belts in school buses”. NASDPTS is not asking that lap/shoulder belts be required but should be a local decision based on local need. NASDPTS believes that NTSB Safety Recommendations H- 13-35 and H-13 36 are consistent with and support the NASDPTS Position Statement. NASDPTS will provide its members with the guidelines developed under Safety Recommendation H-13-35. Additionally, NASDPTS will develop educational materials on lap and shoulder belts providing the highest level of protection for school bus passengers, and advise states or school districts to consider this added safety benefit when purchasing seat-belt equipped school buses. NASDPTS will also request assistance and information from our manufacturer and supplier partners on the benefits and proper use of their lap and shoulder belt systems and provide that information to members, states and schools. NASDPTS has historically and consistently worked closely with NTSB, NHTSA, FMCSA and other federal agencies in all facets of student transportation safety. The outstanding and well documented safety record of school bus transportation is due to many factors including: Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, commercial driver license (CDL) requirements, accident investigations and safety recommendations of the NTSB and diligent state and local driver screening and training practices. Federal agencies, professional associations, and local education agencies must continue to take all reasonable actions to maintain and improve school bus safety and its availability. Thank you for the opportunity to respond to Safety Recommendations H-13-53 and H-13-36.

From: NTSB
To: National Association for Pupil Transportation
Date: 11/7/2016
Response: Reiterated in the Highway Accident Brief “School Bus Roadway Departure” Nohl Ranch Canyon Road, Anaheim, Orange County, California, April 24, 2014 Report Number: NTSB/HAB-16/06, published on November 7, 2016, Notation number 8782 In its 2013 Chesterfield report, the NTSB issued Safety Recommendation H-13-36 to the National Association for Pupil Transportation, National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services, and National School Transportation Association: Provide your members with educational materials on lap and shoulder belts providing the highest level of protection for school bus passengers, and advise states or school districts to consider this added safety benefit when purchasing seat belt-equipped school buses. (H-13-36) Safety Recommendation H-13-36 is classified “Open—Acceptable Alternate Response” for the National Association for Pupil Transportation and the National School Transportation Association. It is classified “Open–Acceptable Response” for the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services. Based on the evidence of the benefits provided by the properly worn lap/shoulder belts in this crash, the NTSB reiterates Safety Recommendation H-13-36 to all three recipients.

From: NTSB
To: National Association for Pupil Transportation
Date: 10/30/2014
Response: We commend your efforts to provide the clearest message regarding school bus seat belt systems to your members. We note your plan to provide your members with this recommendation and the policy guidance you received from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which you believe will allow school districts to make an informed choice when selecting seating systems for new school bus purchases. We are concerned, however, that you did not take a stance regarding the highest level of occupant safety to recommend to your members, and that this decision may affect the clarity of any further advice you may offer. Nevertheless, we believe that your approach constitutes an acceptable alternate method of addressing this recommendation, and we hope that it will result in informed decision-making. Pending our review of the materials you distribute, Safety Recommendation H-13-36 is classified OPEN—ACCEPTABLE ALTERNATE RESPONSE.

From: National Association for Pupil Transportation
To: NTSB
Date: 8/6/2014
Response: -From Michael J. Martin, Executive Director, National Association for Pupil Transportation and Ronna Sable Weber, Executive Director, National School Transportation Association: In our initial reply last December we highlighted numerous statements from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that appeared to conflict with the Board recommendation, precluding us from being supportive at that time. Because we did not want to send a mixed and confusing message to our members and policymakers in states and communities, we committed to work with the Board and NHTSA to seek more information and, hopefully, reconcile this situation. We want to underscore that both NAPT and NSTA have for more than a decade sought factual information and straightforward guidance from NHTSA on how to make school bus occupants even safer. We have petitioned them to do research and make recommendations that would enhance or even replace compartmentalization as the standard for school bus occupant crash protection and perhaps even lead to the next evolution in school bus occupant safety. And for more than a decade, they have declined to do so. After the Board issued Recommendation H-13-36, we redoubled this effort in a constructive spirit and with an eye toward providing needed clarity. As you know, we first met with your staff in April 2014 to better understand the investigations of two school bus crashes and other analysis that led to the recommendation. Following that meeting, we wrote to and met with the NHTSA staff in May 2014 to ascertain if, in light of Recommendation H-13-36, the agency position on belts in large school buses has changed since its Final Rule on the subject, and subsequent denial of a petition from the Center for Auto Safety and other organizations that asked NHTSA to mandate seat belts in large school buses. NHTSA considers this petition denial to be its definitive statement on the subject. Attached is the response we received from NHTSA following our meeting and a subsequent communication requesting that they confirm our conclusions from that meeting. While the NHTSA letter is not dated, we received it on July 10. NHTSA re-stated that it denied the petition for safety belts in large school buses “…in the absence of a safety problem supporting a Federal requirement to install lap/shoulder belts nationwide on large school buses, which are already very safe.” It said, “A Federal requirement for lap/shoulder belts on large school buses would increase the overall cost to purchase and operate these vehicles which could reduce availability of school bus transportation and ridership…” It also estimated the “increased risk from students finding alternative, less safe means of getting to and from school and related events, such as riding in a personal vehicle, could result in an increase of 10 to 19 school transportation fatalities annually.” In what we conclude to be the agency’s summary guidance, NHTSA stated: “Given that large school buses are already very safe, and after considering the possible diversion of students to less safe forms of transportation, the agency determined that the decision to install seat belts on large school buses should be left to State and local jurisdictions. The State and local authorities can weigh the benefits and consequences of installing seat belts on their large school buses and can best decide whether their efforts and monies should be spent on the belts or on other measures that could be more effective in improving student transportation safety.” We concur. Accordingly, our response to H-13-36 will be to share with our members both your recommendation and NHTSA’s policy guidance and encourage them to consider all this information carefully as they make safety decisions about seat belts or other approaches that best fit with local needs and preferences. We will also encourage them to contact us if during their local decision-making they have questions or concerns that we could help alleviate by seeking specific clarifications from either NTSB or NHTSA. Additionally, NAPT looks forward to having you at our Summit in Kansas City this coming November when you will address a joint session with the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) and have the opportunity to reiterate the Board’s position on seat belts. While some NSTA members will be in attendance, we will share this presentation with those who are unable to attend, as well as others in the industry that will not be at our conference. We are committed to clearly communicating with state and local officials who make pupil transportation decisions and frequently look to us for advice. We hope the Board will view these actions as responsive to its recommendation.

From: National Association for Pupil Transportation
To: NTSB
Date: 2/4/2014
Response: -From Michael J. Martin, Executive Director, National Association of Pupil Transportation and Ronna Sable Weber, Executive Director, National School Transportation Association: This Letter is in response to your December 19, 2013 letter to the National Association of Pupil Transportation (NAPT) and the National School Transportation Association (NSTA) requesting a meeting to discuss our December 9, 2013 joint response on safety recommendations H-­-13-­-35 and H-­-13-­-36 following the Chesterfield, New Jersey and Port St. Lucie, Florida 2012 school bus accident investigations. The senior leadership of NAPT and NSTA will be in Washington, D.C. for NSTA’s spring meeting and would like to propose a joint NAPT-­-NSTA meeting with the NTSB at that time. Given our schedule, we would like to propose 10:00am or 11:00am on Thursday, April 3, 2014. If that time is unacceptable, please suggest other times that could be available. We look forward to this discussion with you and your staff.

From: NTSB
To: National Association for Pupil Transportation
Date: 12/19/2013
Response: You indicated concerns regarding the differing positions of the NTSB and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the complex history of school bus occupant protection. In lieu of an official written response, we would like to meet with representatives of NAPT to discuss your concerns and these recommendations in person; if you prefer, this could be a joint meeting with representatives of NSTA, as well. We will delay our formal review of NAPT’s response and classification of the recommendations until after we have an opportunity to meet.

From: National Association for Pupil Transportation
To: NTSB
Date: 12/9/2013
Response: Michael J. Martin, Executive Director, National Association of Pupil Transportation and Ronna Sable Weber, Executive Director National School Transportation Association: The National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) and the National School Transportation Association (NSTA) are pleased to jointly respond to the recent National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommendations to our organizations for further improving the safety of school bus occupants. The recommendations, which were developed as a result of NTSB’s investigations of school bus crashes in Chesterfield, NJ and Port St. Lucie, FL, call on NAPT, NSTA and others to “Develop guidelines and include them in the next update of the National School Transportation Specifications and Procedures to assist schools in training bus drivers, students and parents on the importance and proper use of school bus seat belts, including manual lap belts, adjustable lap and shoulder belts, and flexible seating systems” (H-13-35), and “Provide your members with educational materials on lap and shoulder belts providing the highest level of protection for school bus passengers, and advise states or school districts to consider this added safety benefit when purchasing seat belt equipped-school buses.” (H-13-36) We have tremendous respect for NTSB and consider your recommendations the starting point for a further collaboration to bring an important topic with a long and difficult history to a conclusion that our industry and the communities we serve can understand and embrace. Currently, there is no federal safety requirement for safety belts in large school buses. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the federal agency with regulatory authority on the matter of occupant protection in motor vehicles, has for many decades worked to increase safety belt use in passenger cars and more recently in other vehicles. However, it has repeatedly come to the conclusion that safety belt mandates for large school buses are inadvisable and could actually be counterproductive to improving safety. Since the early 1980s we have transitioned from a nation where belt use was relatively small to majority usage, and there are now laws requiring it in all but one state. This leads to the commonly held opinion that “if my car has seat belts so should my child’s school bus”, which is one of the reasons calls for seat belts in school buses make headlines after every serious crash. While this is understandable, as we know, there are many reasons why most large school buses- with a safety record that’s the best in the transportation industry and a federally-conceived engineering design that is markedly different structurally and in usage than passenger cars - do not have safety belts. Now that NHTSA recently announced motor coaches will be required to have lap/shoulder belts beginning in 2016, already the general public and news media are asking, “Why motor coaches but not school buses?” NAPT and NSTA are prepared to explain to parents and the news media that school buses, motor coaches and the family car are very different vehicles from a crashworthiness perspective and, therefore, do not necessarily utilize the same safety strategies. We continue to believe that our safety record demonstrates that the “automatic” approach to protecting children in school buses, that was mandated for school buses by federal safety officials before seat belt use became popular, remains extremely effective. Six states - California, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York and Texas - currently require belts to be installed in large school buses. These states were given a separate recommendation from the Board regarding developing informational materials on belt use, as well as training procedures for proper usage. As the largest industry trade association representing all states operating school buses (NAPT), and the association representing private school bus contractors (NSTA), our response to your recommendations seeks to address outstanding concerns in the states where belts are required on school buses, as well as those where they are not. Our intent is to provide the best possible information and clarity so everyone can make informed decisions about the efficacy of belts in the school bus operational environment, and how to best allocate resources among safety priorities. In response to Recommendation H-13-35, NAPT and NSTA will use their communications channels to share the NTSB’s recommendation with our members. Safety education is an ongoing priority of both organizations. NAPT and NSTA, also agree to work collaboratively with the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) to review the next update of the National School Transportation Specifications and Procedures so states with belt use requirements have the latest information regarding the installation and use of these devices. If asked, we will also consult with NAPT and NSTA members in the six states that have belt requirements as they attempt to address your recommendation. In response to Recommendation H-13-36, we cannot at this time support this recommendation. We acknowledge and appreciate the work the Board did in the Chesterfield, NJ and Port St. Lucie crash investigations. These investigations add additional information to the body of knowledge about school bus crash kinematics and safety belts. Frankly, however, NTSB’s conclusions and recommendations added to our conundrum as trade associations that must understand and represent many differing state and local views on this topic. A bit of history may be instructive: As a result of its 1999 special investigations report, Bus Crashworthiness Issues, NTSB recommended in November of that year that NHTSA “In two years, develop performance standards for school bus occupant protection systems that account for frontal impact collisions, side impact collisions, rear impact collisions, and rollovers.” (H-99-45). That recommendation was subsequently closed because of “Acceptable Alternate Action.” Apparently the alternate action was that NHTSA replied it was working on a 2-year research program that would scientifically determine the real-world effectiveness of current Federal requirements for school bus occupant crash protection and would evaluate alternative occupant crash protection systems in controlled laboratory tests. NTSB also recommended, “Once pertinent standards have been developed for school bus occupant protection systems, require newly manufactured school buses to have an occupant crash protection system that meets the newly developed performance standards and retains passengers, including those in child safety restraint systems, within the seat compartment throughout the accident sequence for all accident scenarios.” (H-99-46). This recommendation was closed with the notation, “Unacceptable Action.” We presume this meant NHTSA chose not to follow your recommendations on this very serious safety matter. In 2002, NHTSA issued a report to Congress that, for all intents and purposes, underscored the efficacy of compartmentalization as a good “passive” solution to protecting children riding in the unique operational circumstances of a school bus, and reinforced its preference for this system as the core of school bus passenger safety. In February 2007, NAPT petitioned NHTSA for rulemaking to establish “…a safety system that will definitively enhance the current passenger crash protection for all children that ride a school bus.” NAPT also asked NHTSA to help us educate the public about the importance of safe school bus transportation. In NAPT’s response to the subsequent rulemaking, NAPT called on NHTSA to conduct dynamic crash tests of school buses - as they do routinely and repeatedly with other passenger vehicles – to evaluate kinematics in all of the various crash modes, including and especially side, oblique and rollover crashes. To our knowledge, no such testing has been conducted. Problematic for us in responding to the Board’s recommendation H-13-36 is that in its March 2010 Final Rule on school bus occupant protection and again in 2011, NHTSA reached conclusions that in our view contradict the Board’s current recommendations In 2011, for example, NHTSA determined that requiring safety belts in school buses would not result in improved safety, and said that a federal seat belt mandate might actually increase fatalities by forcing more children into less safe modes of getting to and from school. In addition, the following statements also illustrate a dichotomy of perspective between NHTSA and NTSB: NTSB: “Provide your members with educational materials on lap and shoulder belts providing the highest level of protection for school bus passengers, and advise states or school districts to consider this added safety benefit when purchasing seat belt-equipped school buses.” NHTSA: “Given that very few school bus-related serious injuries and fatalities would be prevented by a requirement mandating seat belts on large school buses, we could not assure that overall safety would not be adversely affected, particularly given the many competing demands on school resources and widely varying and unique circumstances associated with transporting children…” “After considering all available information, including the comments to the [Notice of Proposed Rulemaking], we cannot conclude that a requirement for seat belts on large school buses will protect against an unreasonable risk of accidents or an unreasonable risk of death or injury in an accident.” “NHTSA has been repeatedly asked to require belts on buses, has repeatedly analyzed the issue, and has repeatedly concluded that compartmentalization provides a high level of safety protection that obviates the safety need for a Federal requirement necessitating the installation of seat belts.” NHTSA has also pointed out that “…the NTSB expressed concern that lap/shoulder belts have not been sufficiently researched in non-frontal crash modes, e.g., side, oblique and rollover crashes.” We recall well when NTSB first articulated this perspective, and wonder why you did not reiterate this recommendation to NHTSA in the current group of recommendations following the Chesterfield and Port St. Lucie investigations, especially if NHTSA did not previously provide acceptable followup on this matter? We also would like to point out that in its 2010 Final Rule NHTSA responded to a question about side impact testing from an NAPT member, the New York Association for Pupil Transportation, that “…our side impact protection countermeasure research is still ongoing. We have been actively pursuing this research and expect to complete it soon.” We do not know if this research has been completed and are not aware that the results of this research have ever been published. Our members across the country are passionate about safety and need clear and definitive guidance from federal policy-makers. Our members must be able to justify school bus safety related decisions to local officials and taxpayers that always ask challenging questions and demand compelling facts before deciding where to authorize action or spend educational dollars. Many NAPT and NSTA members remain very concerned about the “unintended consequences” of belt use that NHTSA articulated in its 2011, 2010 and 2002 rulemakings and do not understand why the NTSB is not making a strong recommendation that NHTSA conduct the “sufficient research” the agency said it would undertake nearly a decade ago or at least show the results of the work it said nearly 4 years ago would be completed “soon.” We offer this perspective to address outstanding questions that NAPT and NSTA members share. Moreover, we feel so strongly about this shortcoming in necessary science that as part of our response to Recommendation H-13-36 we want the Board to know that NAPT may again petition NHTSA to conduct dynamic crash tests of school buses and evaluate kinematics in all of the various crash modes, including and especially side, oblique and rollover crashes. We hope you would support this effort. Additionally, many of our members wonder if upgrading the federally mandated engineering design called compartmentalization, an approach that NHTSA says “…provides a high level of safety protection that obviates the safety need for a Federal requirement necessitating the installation of seat belts”, might be a viable - or even better - solution than belts in side impact and rollover crashes. But such an update has not to our knowledge been considered, much less any analysis done to evaluate the premise. We continue to believe that consideration of an upgrade to the existing design of school bus passenger crash protection should be a worthy area of federal investigation before urging the installation and usage education of seat belts, when comprehensive testing of this passive technology in side, oblique and rollover crashes has not been done to validate performance. Again, based on NHTSA’s repeated conclusions, and the operational concerns of our members, we believe it is logical to at least do the requisite research to see if enhancing compartmentalization to provide better protection in side and rollover crashes might not be the best practice to augment the good performance in frontal crashes and further improve the safety of school bus occupants. We would hope the Board would support this in a recommendation. If anything, the wisdom of compartmentalization as an engineering design may have become more relevant as the school bus operational reality has become more difficult. Today, children of many cultures and languages ride school buses, making belt use education even more challenging. Bus drivers must deal more frequently with tighter schedules because of budget cuts, behavior issues, security concerns, and even potential personal legal liability for interventions aboard the bus, in addition to their fundamental responsibility of driving safely and getting children to and from school on schedule. In fact, NHTSA noted in its 2010 rulemaking, “School bus drivers were universally opposed to having belts on the buses, believing that belts were unnecessary, that they would impede emergency egress, and that drivers have limited means to get students to buckle up.” Finally, NAPT and NSTA have great concern about the Board’s implied recommendation that it supports lap belts as acceptable technology. Again, we point to the conflict with what NHTSA said in its 2010 Final Rule: “A number of commenters to the NPRM wanted NHTSA to ban lap belts. The NTSB believed that NHTSA’s 2002 school bus test program showed that lap belts afford occupants little if any safety benefit above that achieved by compartmentalization alone and may cause additional neck and abdominal injury.“ NHTSA concluded: “…we stand by our statement in the NPRM that we cannot conclude that lap belts either helped or hurt occupant injury outcomes. It was not possible to estimate lap belt performance or effectiveness.” In January 2007, NSTA offered in comments to NHTSA, “NSTA urges NHTSA to reconsider its position on lap belts.” In addition, NSTA noted, “Given the absence of a benefit from lap belts along with the evidence that lap belts can be harmful in severe crashes, NSTA disagrees with NHTSA’s decision to allow states to require lap belts on their school buses going forward. Our concern is that states will choose to mandate the less costly but ineffective two-point restraints in the mistaken belief that they are improving passenger safety. While we agree that the decision to require passenger restraints should be left to the states and local education agencies, we strongly believe that the only viable option other than compartmentalization alone is lap/shoulder belts; lap belts not should be a consideration. Therefore, we urge NHTSA to amend the proposed standards for voluntary installation of passenger restraints to preclude the installation of two-point belts.” According to NHTSA, this argument was supported by the NTSB in the agency’s rulemaking on “School Bus Passenger Seating and Crash Protection:” “The NTSB believed that NHTSA’s 2002 school bus test program showed that lap belts afford occupants little if any safety benefit above that achieved by compartmentalization alone and may cause additional neck and abdominal injury.” Both NAPT and NSTA have a long public record of strong advocacy for elevating this discussion to a national level and for seeking a science-based rather than emotion-driven or “directionally correct” conclusion to the question of whether safety belts would definitively improve school bus passenger crash protection. Transporting children safely is our sole business. We are safety professionals ourselves. We share the Board’s passion for action; that’s one of the reasons NAPT petitioned NHSTA nearly 7 years ago to settle this matter once and for all. Unfortunately, they did not so there remains both public confusion and uncertainty regarding an important matter that deserves definitive resolution. We cannot in good faith advise our members, or the public, on this issue until the significant and conflicting policy differences between the two federal safety agencies are resolved, hopefully with the added science of dynamic crash testing that is customary and routine for all other motor vehicle recommendations and requirements. We would be pleased to meet with you to have a more thorough discussion about our concerns, and seek constructive next steps toward our mutual goal of making school bus transportation even safer.

From: NTSB
To: National School Transportation Association
Date: 9/28/2017
Response: We understand that the NSTA has undergone a recent leadership change. In lieu of an official written response, we would like to meet with representatives of your agency to discuss our recommendation process and your approach to school bus transportation safety issues, as represented by these recommendations, in person or in a conference call. We will delay our formal review of the July 12 response and classification of the recommendations until after we have an opportunity to meet. An NTSB staff member will be contacting your organization to set up this meeting.

From: National School Transportation Association
To: NTSB
Date: 7/12/2017
Response: -From Ronna Sable Weber, Executive Director: By way of this letter, the National School Transportation Association (NSTA) is responding to Safety Recommendations H-16-7 and H-13-36, which was forwarded to us on November 7, 2016. NSTA is the membership organization for school bus companies engaged primarily in transporting students to and from school and school-related activities under contract to public school districts. Our members offer a range of services to our school district partners, from full turn-key service to management operations and specialized transportation. NSTA members range from small family businesses serving one district to large corporations operating thousands of buses across many states, all committed to the safe, efficient, and economical transportation of America’s children. As noted previously, NSTA received Safety Recommendations H-16-7 and H-13-36 from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which states: H-16-7: Inform School bus drivers of the impact their health may have on the safe transportation of school children, of their responsibility to accurately and completely report their health history and medications, and of the legal consequences of dishonestly on the medical examination report. H-13-36: Provide your members with educational materials on lap and shoulder belts providing the highest level of protection for school bus passengers and advise states or school districts to consider this added safety benefit when purchasing seat belt equipped school buses. NSTA provided notice of the safety recommendations in our November 16, 2016 electronic newsletters to our members. In addition, NSTA Executive Director Ronna Weber also informed members publicly of both recommendations during prepared remarks at NSTA’s Midwinter Meeting in Palm Springs, California on Monday, January 16, 2017, during prepared remarks at the Minnesota School Bus Operators Association meeting in St. Cloud, Minnesota on January 27, 2017, during prepared remarks at the School Transportation Association of Massachusetts meeting in Fajardo, Puerto Rico on February 21, 2017 and in prepared remarks at the Idaho Association for Pupil Transportation meeting in Boise, Idaho on June 27, 2017. We hope the Board will view these actions as responsive to its recommendation. We appreciate the opportunity to respond to your recommendation and look forward to continuing to work with the National Transportation Safety Board. We take safety very seriously and are very proud of the work we do each and every day to transport children to school safely as well as the charter work we operate.

From: NTSB
To: National School Transportation Association
Date: 11/7/2016
Response: Reiterated in the Highway Accident Brief “School Bus Roadway Departure” Nohl Ranch Canyon Road, Anaheim, Orange County, California, April 24, 2014 Report Number: NTSB/HAB-16/06, published on November 7, 2016, Notation number 8782 In its 2013 Chesterfield report, the NTSB issued Safety Recommendation H-13-36 to the National Association for Pupil Transportation, National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services, and National School Transportation Association: Provide your members with educational materials on lap and shoulder belts providing the highest level of protection for school bus passengers, and advise states or school districts to consider this added safety benefit when purchasing seat belt-equipped school buses. (H-13-36) Safety Recommendation H-13-36 is classified “Open—Acceptable Alternate Response” for the National Association for Pupil Transportation and the National School Transportation Association. It is classified “Open–Acceptable Response” for the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services. Based on the evidence of the benefits provided by the properly worn lap/shoulder belts in this crash, the NTSB reiterates Safety Recommendation H-13-36 to all three recipients.

From: NTSB
To: National School Transportation Association
Date: 10/30/2014
Response: We commend your efforts to provide the clearest message regarding school bus seat belt systems to your members. We note your plan to provide your members with this recommendation and the policy guidance you received from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to enable school districts to make an informed choice when selecting seating systems for new school bus purchases. We are concerned, however, that you did not take a stance regarding the highest level of occupant safety to recommend to your members, and that this decision may affect the clarity of any further advice you may offer. Nevertheless, we believe that your approach constitutes an acceptable alternate method of addressing this recommendation, and we hope that it will result in informed decision-making. Pending our review of the materials you distribute, Safety Recommendation H-13-36 is classified OPEN—ACCEPTABLE ALTERNATE RESPONSE.

From: National School Transportation Association
To: NTSB
Date: 8/6/2014
Response: -From Michael J. Martin, Executive Director, National Association for Pupil Transportation and Ronna Sable Weber, Executive Director, National School Transportation Association: In our initial reply last December we highlighted numerous statements from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that appeared to conflict with the Board recommendation, precluding us from being supportive at that time. Because we did not want to send a mixed and confusing message to our members and policymakers in states and communities, we committed to work with the Board and NHTSA to seek more information and, hopefully, reconcile this situation. We want to underscore that both NAPT and NSTA have for more than a decade sought factual information and straightforward guidance from NHTSA on how to make school bus occupants even safer. We have petitioned them to do research and make recommendations that would enhance or even replace compartmentalization as the standard for school bus occupant crash protection and perhaps even lead to the next evolution in school bus occupant safety. And for more than a decade, they have declined to do so. After the Board issued Recommendation H-13-36, we redoubled this effort in a constructive spirit and with an eye toward providing needed clarity. As you know, we first met with your staff in April 2014 to better understand the investigations of two school bus crashes and other analysis that led to the recommendation. Following that meeting, we wrote to and met with the NHTSA staff in May 2014 to ascertain if, in light of Recommendation H-13-36, the agency position on belts in large school buses has changed since its Final Rule on the subject, and subsequent denial of a petition from the Center for Auto Safety and other organizations that asked NHTSA to mandate seat belts in large school buses. NHTSA considers this petition denial to be its definitive statement on the subject. Attached is the response we received from NHTSA following our meeting and a subsequent communication requesting that they confirm our conclusions from that meeting. While the NHTSA letter is not dated, we received it on July 10. NHTSA re-stated that it denied the petition for safety belts in large school buses “…in the absence of a safety problem supporting a Federal requirement to install lap/shoulder belts nationwide on large school buses, which are already very safe.” It said, “A Federal requirement for lap/shoulder belts on large school buses would increase the overall cost to purchase and operate these vehicles which could reduce availability of school bus transportation and ridership…” It also estimated the “increased risk from students finding alternative, less safe means of getting to and from school and related events, such as riding in a personal vehicle, could result in an increase of 10 to 19 school transportation fatalities annually.” In what we conclude to be the agency’s summary guidance, NHTSA stated: “Given that large school buses are already very safe, and after considering the possible diversion of students to less safe forms of transportation, the agency determined that the decision to install seat belts on large school buses should be left to State and local jurisdictions. The State and local authorities can weigh the benefits and consequences of installing seat belts on their large school buses and can best decide whether their efforts and monies should be spent on the belts or on other measures that could be more effective in improving student transportation safety.” We concur. Accordingly, our response to H-13-36 will be to share with our members both your recommendation and NHTSA’s policy guidance and encourage them to consider all this information carefully as they make safety decisions about seat belts or other approaches that best fit with local needs and preferences. We will also encourage them to contact us if during their local decision-making they have questions or concerns that we could help alleviate by seeking specific clarifications from either NTSB or NHTSA. Additionally, NAPT looks forward to having you at our Summit in Kansas City this coming November when you will address a joint session with the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) and have the opportunity to reiterate the Board’s position on seat belts. While some NSTA members will be in attendance, we will share this presentation with those who are unable to attend, as well as others in the industry that will not be at our conference. We are committed to clearly communicating with state and local officials who make pupil transportation decisions and frequently look to us for advice. We hope the Board will view these actions as responsive to its recommendation.

From: National School Transportation Association
To: NTSB
Date: 2/4/2014
Response: -From Michael J. Martin, Executive Director, National Association of Pupil Transportation and Ronna Sable Weber, Executive Director, National School Transportation Association: This Letter is in response to your December 19, 2013 letter to the National Association of Pupil Transportation (NAPT) and the National School Transportation Association (NSTA) requesting a meeting to discuss our December 9, 2013 joint response on safety recommendations H-­-13-­-35 and H-­-13-­-36 following the Chesterfield, New Jersey and Port St. Lucie, Florida 2012 school bus accident investigations. The senior leadership of NAPT and NSTA will be in Washington, D.C. for NSTA’s spring meeting and would like to propose a joint NAPT-­-NSTA meeting with the NTSB at that time. Given our schedule, we would like to propose 10:00am or 11:00am on Thursday, April 3, 2014. If that time is unacceptable, please suggest other times that could be available. We look forward to this discussion with you and your staff.

From: NTSB
To: National School Transportation Association
Date: 12/19/2013
Response: You indicated concerns regarding the differing positions of the NTSB and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the complex history of school bus occupant protection. In lieu of an official written response, we would like to meet with representatives of NSTA to discuss your concerns and these recommendations in person; if you prefer, this could be a joint meeting with representatives of NAPT, as well. We will delay our formal review of NSTA’s response and classification of the recommendations until we have an opportunity to meet.

From: National School Transportation Association
To: NTSB
Date: 12/9/2013
Response: Michael J. Martin, Executive Director, National Association of Pupil Transportation and Ronna Sable Weber, Executive Director National School Transportation Association: The National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) and the National School Transportation Association (NSTA) are pleased to jointly respond to the recent National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommendations to our organizations for further improving the safety of school bus occupants. The recommendations, which were developed as a result of NTSB’s investigations of school bus crashes in Chesterfield, NJ and Port St. Lucie, FL, call on NAPT, NSTA and others to “Develop guidelines and include them in the next update of the National School Transportation Specifications and Procedures to assist schools in training bus drivers, students and parents on the importance and proper use of school bus seat belts, including manual lap belts, adjustable lap and shoulder belts, and flexible seating systems” (H-13-35), and “Provide your members with educational materials on lap and shoulder belts providing the highest level of protection for school bus passengers, and advise states or school districts to consider this added safety benefit when purchasing seat belt equipped-school buses.” (H-13-36) We have tremendous respect for NTSB and consider your recommendations the starting point for a further collaboration to bring an important topic with a long and difficult history to a conclusion that our industry and the communities we serve can understand and embrace. Currently, there is no federal safety requirement for safety belts in large school buses. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the federal agency with regulatory authority on the matter of occupant protection in motor vehicles, has for many decades worked to increase safety belt use in passenger cars and more recently in other vehicles. However, it has repeatedly come to the conclusion that safety belt mandates for large school buses are inadvisable and could actually be counterproductive to improving safety. Since the early 1980s we have transitioned from a nation where belt use was relatively small to majority usage, and there are now laws requiring it in all but one state. This leads to the commonly held opinion that “if my car has seat belts so should my child’s school bus”, which is one of the reasons calls for seat belts in school buses make headlines after every serious crash. While this is understandable, as we know, there are many reasons why most large school buses- with a safety record that’s the best in the transportation industry and a federally-conceived engineering design that is markedly different structurally and in usage than passenger cars - do not have safety belts. Now that NHTSA recently announced motor coaches will be required to have lap/shoulder belts beginning in 2016, already the general public and news media are asking, “Why motor coaches but not school buses?” NAPT and NSTA are prepared to explain to parents and the news media that school buses, motor coaches and the family car are very different vehicles from a crashworthiness perspective and, therefore, do not necessarily utilize the same safety strategies. We continue to believe that our safety record demonstrates that the “automatic” approach to protecting children in school buses, that was mandated for school buses by federal safety officials before seat belt use became popular, remains extremely effective. Six states - California, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York and Texas - currently require belts to be installed in large school buses. These states were given a separate recommendation from the Board regarding developing informational materials on belt use, as well as training procedures for proper usage. As the largest industry trade association representing all states operating school buses (NAPT), and the association representing private school bus contractors (NSTA), our response to your recommendations seeks to address outstanding concerns in the states where belts are required on school buses, as well as those where they are not. Our intent is to provide the best possible information and clarity so everyone can make informed decisions about the efficacy of belts in the school bus operational environment, and how to best allocate resources among safety priorities. In response to Recommendation H-13-35, NAPT and NSTA will use their communications channels to share the NTSB’s recommendation with our members. Safety education is an ongoing priority of both organizations. NAPT and NSTA, also agree to work collaboratively with the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) to review the next update of the National School Transportation Specifications and Procedures so states with belt use requirements have the latest information regarding the installation and use of these devices. If asked, we will also consult with NAPT and NSTA members in the six states that have belt requirements as they attempt to address your recommendation. In response to Recommendation H-13-36, we cannot at this time support this recommendation. We acknowledge and appreciate the work the Board did in the Chesterfield, NJ and Port St. Lucie crash investigations. These investigations add additional information to the body of knowledge about school bus crash kinematics and safety belts. Frankly, however, NTSB’s conclusions and recommendations added to our conundrum as trade associations that must understand and represent many differing state and local views on this topic. A bit of history may be instructive: As a result of its 1999 special investigations report, Bus Crashworthiness Issues, NTSB recommended in November of that year that NHTSA “In two years, develop performance standards for school bus occupant protection systems that account for frontal impact collisions, side impact collisions, rear impact collisions, and rollovers.” (H-99-45). That recommendation was subsequently closed because of “Acceptable Alternate Action.” Apparently the alternate action was that NHTSA replied it was working on a 2-year research program that would scientifically determine the real-world effectiveness of current Federal requirements for school bus occupant crash protection and would evaluate alternative occupant crash protection systems in controlled laboratory tests. NTSB also recommended, “Once pertinent standards have been developed for school bus occupant protection systems, require newly manufactured school buses to have an occupant crash protection system that meets the newly developed performance standards and retains passengers, including those in child safety restraint systems, within the seat compartment throughout the accident sequence for all accident scenarios.” (H-99-46). This recommendation was closed with the notation, “Unacceptable Action.” We presume this meant NHTSA chose not to follow your recommendations on this very serious safety matter. In 2002, NHTSA issued a report to Congress that, for all intents and purposes, underscored the efficacy of compartmentalization as a good “passive” solution to protecting children riding in the unique operational circumstances of a school bus, and reinforced its preference for this system as the core of school bus passenger safety. In February 2007, NAPT petitioned NHTSA for rulemaking to establish “…a safety system that will definitively enhance the current passenger crash protection for all children that ride a school bus.” NAPT also asked NHTSA to help us educate the public about the importance of safe school bus transportation. In NAPT’s response to the subsequent rulemaking, NAPT called on NHTSA to conduct dynamic crash tests of school buses - as they do routinely and repeatedly with other passenger vehicles – to evaluate kinematics in all of the various crash modes, including and especially side, oblique and rollover crashes. To our knowledge, no such testing has been conducted. Problematic for us in responding to the Board’s recommendation H-13-36 is that in its March 2010 Final Rule on school bus occupant protection and again in 2011, NHTSA reached conclusions that in our view contradict the Board’s current recommendations In 2011, for example, NHTSA determined that requiring safety belts in school buses would not result in improved safety, and said that a federal seat belt mandate might actually increase fatalities by forcing more children into less safe modes of getting to and from school. In addition, the following statements also illustrate a dichotomy of perspective between NHTSA and NTSB: NTSB: “Provide your members with educational materials on lap and shoulder belts providing the highest level of protection for school bus passengers, and advise states or school districts to consider this added safety benefit when purchasing seat belt-equipped school buses.” NHTSA: “Given that very few school bus-related serious injuries and fatalities would be prevented by a requirement mandating seat belts on large school buses, we could not assure that overall safety would not be adversely affected, particularly given the many competing demands on school resources and widely varying and unique circumstances associated with transporting children…” “After considering all available information, including the comments to the [Notice of Proposed Rulemaking], we cannot conclude that a requirement for seat belts on large school buses will protect against an unreasonable risk of accidents or an unreasonable risk of death or injury in an accident.” “NHTSA has been repeatedly asked to require belts on buses, has repeatedly analyzed the issue, and has repeatedly concluded that compartmentalization provides a high level of safety protection that obviates the safety need for a Federal requirement necessitating the installation of seat belts.” NHTSA has also pointed out that “…the NTSB expressed concern that lap/shoulder belts have not been sufficiently researched in non-frontal crash modes, e.g., side, oblique and rollover crashes.” We recall well when NTSB first articulated this perspective, and wonder why you did not reiterate this recommendation to NHTSA in the current group of recommendations following the Chesterfield and Port St. Lucie investigations, especially if NHTSA did not previously provide acceptable followup on this matter? We also would like to point out that in its 2010 Final Rule NHTSA responded to a question about side impact testing from an NAPT member, the New York Association for Pupil Transportation, that “…our side impact protection countermeasure research is still ongoing. We have been actively pursuing this research and expect to complete it soon.” We do not know if this research has been completed and are not aware that the results of this research have ever been published. Our members across the country are passionate about safety and need clear and definitive guidance from federal policy-makers. Our members must be able to justify school bus safety related decisions to local officials and taxpayers that always ask challenging questions and demand compelling facts before deciding where to authorize action or spend educational dollars. Many NAPT and NSTA members remain very concerned about the “unintended consequences” of belt use that NHTSA articulated in its 2011, 2010 and 2002 rulemakings and do not understand why the NTSB is not making a strong recommendation that NHTSA conduct the “sufficient research” the agency said it would undertake nearly a decade ago or at least show the results of the work it said nearly 4 years ago would be completed “soon.” We offer this perspective to address outstanding questions that NAPT and NSTA members share. Moreover, we feel so strongly about this shortcoming in necessary science that as part of our response to Recommendation H-13-36 we want the Board to know that NAPT may again petition NHTSA to conduct dynamic crash tests of school buses and evaluate kinematics in all of the various crash modes, including and especially side, oblique and rollover crashes. We hope you would support this effort. Additionally, many of our members wonder if upgrading the federally mandated engineering design called compartmentalization, an approach that NHTSA says “…provides a high level of safety protection that obviates the safety need for a Federal requirement necessitating the installation of seat belts”, might be a viable - or even better - solution than belts in side impact and rollover crashes. But such an update has not to our knowledge been considered, much less any analysis done to evaluate the premise. We continue to believe that consideration of an upgrade to the existing design of school bus passenger crash protection should be a worthy area of federal investigation before urging the installation and usage education of seat belts, when comprehensive testing of this passive technology in side, oblique and rollover crashes has not been done to validate performance. Again, based on NHTSA’s repeated conclusions, and the operational concerns of our members, we believe it is logical to at least do the requisite research to see if enhancing compartmentalization to provide better protection in side and rollover crashes might not be the best practice to augment the good performance in frontal crashes and further improve the safety of school bus occupants. We would hope the Board would support this in a recommendation. If anything, the wisdom of compartmentalization as an engineering design may have become more relevant as the school bus operational reality has become more difficult. Today, children of many cultures and languages ride school buses, making belt use education even more challenging. Bus drivers must deal more frequently with tighter schedules because of budget cuts, behavior issues, security concerns, and even potential personal legal liability for interventions aboard the bus, in addition to their fundamental responsibility of driving safely and getting children to and from school on schedule. In fact, NHTSA noted in its 2010 rulemaking, “School bus drivers were universally opposed to having belts on the buses, believing that belts were unnecessary, that they would impede emergency egress, and that drivers have limited means to get students to buckle up.” Finally, NAPT and NSTA have great concern about the Board’s implied recommendation that it supports lap belts as acceptable technology. Again, we point to the conflict with what NHTSA said in its 2010 Final Rule: “A number of commenters to the NPRM wanted NHTSA to ban lap belts. The NTSB believed that NHTSA’s 2002 school bus test program showed that lap belts afford occupants little if any safety benefit above that achieved by compartmentalization alone and may cause additional neck and abdominal injury.“ NHTSA concluded: “…we stand by our statement in the NPRM that we cannot conclude that lap belts either helped or hurt occupant injury outcomes. It was not possible to estimate lap belt performance or effectiveness.” In January 2007, NSTA offered in comments to NHTSA, “NSTA urges NHTSA to reconsider its position on lap belts.” In addition, NSTA noted, “Given the absence of a benefit from lap belts along with the evidence that lap belts can be harmful in severe crashes, NSTA disagrees with NHTSA’s decision to allow states to require lap belts on their school buses going forward. Our concern is that states will choose to mandate the less costly but ineffective two-point restraints in the mistaken belief that they are improving passenger safety. While we agree that the decision to require passenger restraints should be left to the states and local education agencies, we strongly believe that the only viable option other than compartmentalization alone is lap/shoulder belts; lap belts not should be a consideration. Therefore, we urge NHTSA to amend the proposed standards for voluntary installation of passenger restraints to preclude the installation of two-point belts.” According to NHTSA, this argument was supported by the NTSB in the agency’s rulemaking on “School Bus Passenger Seating and Crash Protection:” “The NTSB believed that NHTSA’s 2002 school bus test program showed that lap belts afford occupants little if any safety benefit above that achieved by compartmentalization alone and may cause additional neck and abdominal injury.” Both NAPT and NSTA have a long public record of strong advocacy for elevating this discussion to a national level and for seeking a science-based rather than emotion-driven or “directionally correct” conclusion to the question of whether safety belts would definitively improve school bus passenger crash protection. Transporting children safely is our sole business. We are safety professionals ourselves. We share the Board’s passion for action; that’s one of the reasons NAPT petitioned NHSTA nearly 7 years ago to settle this matter once and for all. Unfortunately, they did not so there remains both public confusion and uncertainty regarding an important matter that deserves definitive resolution. We cannot in good faith advise our members, or the public, on this issue until the significant and conflicting policy differences between the two federal safety agencies are resolved, hopefully with the added science of dynamic crash testing that is customary and routine for all other motor vehicle recommendations and requirements. We would be pleased to meet with you to have a more thorough discussion about our concerns, and seek constructive next steps toward our mutual goal of making school bus transportation even safer.