New federal safety rules proposed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration under the U.S. Department of Transportation are intended to make America’s 474,000 school buses safer when involved in traffic accidents. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters rode along in a school bus with children from Morrisville Elementary School this week wearing her three-point seatbelt, which is one of the recommendations. The new seatbelt recommendation is the first federal guidelines for school districts to use if they elect to equip their buses with seatbelts. It also would allow them to use federal highway safety funds to offset the cost.
Another proposed change is in the height of the seatbacks on larger buses. The increased height from 20″ to 24″ is to prevent children from flying over the seat in an accident, potentially harming themselves and other passengers. One year from passage of the proposed rule change, all new buses would be required to have the higher seatbacks.
For more information on this subject, please refer to the section on Mass Transit Accidents.