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Training, Hennerley continued, begins with hiring the right person for the job and being proactive in training and testing drivers properly. Hennerley’ said his concerns center on how the belts can be readily adapted from a small grade school child to a larger high school student, though all seat belt manufacturers have been offering “3/2” seating configurations for the past several years. He also said he’s concerned about children not being able to be quickly release themselves from the seats in case of a rollover, or a bus breakdown on a railroad crossing, for example. But Vits at SafeGuard explained how the buckles used on the belts


are released in an evacuation or rollover incident by pushing one button, therefore releasing a child in a controlled manner. He also pointed out that lap-shoulder belt buckles must comply with FMVSS 209. “Terefore they must release with the same button force whether or not there is a load on the belt system,” Vits added. “Tis allows the controlled dropping of a child that has suffered minimal injury compared to the unrestrained child that was hurled across the bus and now may be unable to move and evacuate because of injuries suffered.” But Grover also He also said he is concerned with Randy Gover, transportation director of Weatherford ISD in Texas, currently only uses the lap-shoulder system for special needs students but added that he is in favor of adding the occupant restraints for each of his big buses, if funding would be made available. A state law


requiring three-point seat belts passed 10 years ago, however, the requirements are contingent upon funds being appropriated by the state legislature, and that has yet to happened aside from an initial grant program. “Compartmentalization is safe for head-on colli- sions, (but) lateral force is not friendly to students,” Gover said, echoing recommendations by the National Transporation Safety Board. “My biggest concern is for buses traveling on highways with band or athletic groups, especially where a bus might roll over in rural areas where road erosion exists.” He added that although some states may require the seat belts, it’s up to the districts to obtain the funds to secure the belts. Funding must come out of the district’s transportation budgets because the state’s transportation allocation is not enough to pay for the belts. During the recent TSD Conference in Texas, Blue Bird and supplier partner HSM Transportation Solutions announced that a factory seating option will be available to customers for the 2017-2018 school year to ease district transitions to lap-shoulder belts. It is a convertible solution allows the bus owner to change the seat-back frame to accommodate three-point seat belts without the operator needing to purchase all new seats and install them on the bus. Similar standalone products already exist on the market from HSM as well as SynTec ad SafeGuard, the latter which also partners with IC Bus on the convertible BTI Seating System. ●


20 School Transportation News • MAY 2017


CELEBRATING25YEARS


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