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With the installation of lap/ shoulder seatbelts a growing trend across North America, transportation directors share the positives of installing the safety restraints, and some lingering concerns.


Written By Taylor Hannon taylor@stnonline.com


W


hen he first started in the school bus industry 18 years ago as a driver, Joshua Hinerman admits the he was a “naysayer.” “However, I am fully convinced that seatbelts save lives and help to make the school ride safer and positive by their use,” said the director


of student transportation for Robertson County Schools in Tennessee. Many transportation directors and school bus drivers tell similar tales. But as time passes, more of them have expressed that they are a “seatbelt convert.” More states and now Canadian provinces are looking to adopt the seatbelts via legisla- tion, and even more districts are voluntarily installing them on a local level. That’s not to say that some transportation directors don’t still have their doubts. The issue remains as polarizing today as it did two decades ago. Hinerman shared that Robertson County Schools, located northwest of


Nashville, currently has 14 school buses using the safety restraints. Eight are 90-passenger Type D transit-style buses, while the remaining six are installed on Type C conventional buses. Hinerman said the district choose to install the restraints on Type D buses as well because those vehicles serve a higher popu- lated area in the city, and these students are exposed to greater risks of crashes on routes. He said the Type D’s also run multiple routes and serve more students, which allows the seatbelts to serve a greater population. As a transportation director and a frequent bus driver himself, Hinerman said he sees a night-and-day difference in behavior with the lap/shoulder seatbelts installed. “Many of my fellow supervisors in other districts will not agree with me on the


issue of seatbelts, but I know they change student behavior,” Hinerman said. “They make driving the bus easier because the students are all sitting, facing forward and conversing with their friends in their seat. Let me be up front through, seatbelts will not address the issues of students who curse and are willingly defiant.” Hinerman explained that seatbelts will improve student safety and mitigate injuries, if the school bus is involved in a side-impact or rollover crash. “[Seat-


36 School Transportation News • MAY 2020


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