lap/shoulder belts. Despite his concerns, he said the

overall experience with the seatbelts has been positive, as they help with student behavior. He also noted that he doesn’t see many students struggling with securing the restraints properly. “We talk to them on the bus with our other aspects of evacuations,” Martin explained. “The drivers also do it at the beginning of each year and throughout [the year], when they do some other quick talking points with the kids.” Meanwhile, Iowa became the fifth

state to require lap/shoulder seatbelts in all school buses purchased as of last Oct. 2. In a November survey of all 327 transportation directors in the state, 46 percent of 195 respondents said the lap/ shouder belt regulation was either a “good” or a “great” idea.

Could Canada Be Next to Require the Restraints? North of the border, great strides are being taken in favor of lap/shoulder seatbelt installation. Transport Canada, the federal agency that is responsible for developing the nation’s regulations and policies involving road, rail, marine and air transportation, announced in Febru- ary that select school boards are installing lap/shoulder seatbelts on school buses as part of a one-year pilot program. However, the road toward reaching this milestone has been laid with many obstacles. In 2010, Transport Canada conduct- ed a study that wasn’t publicly released until 2018, when the Canadian Broad- casting Company revealed its existence during an investigative report aired on the “Fifth Estate” television news show. Similar to NTSB’s conclusions, the find- ings of a Transport Canada researcher indicated that compartmentalization is incomplete and would fail to prevent children’s ejections and serious injuries in event of side impacts and rollovers. Following the release of the Trans-

port Canada report, longtime school bus driver Gary Lillico started a petition

40 School Transportation News • MAY 2020

that called for seatbelts in all Canadian school buses. The petition now has over 132,000 signatures. It drew the attention of British Columbia Assemblymember Laurie Throness, who teamed up with Lil- lico to introduce the “Motor Vehicle Amendment Act.” The bill requires that all new provincial school buses coming into service after September 2021 be equipped with three-point seatbelts. Last year, the Canadian Council Min- isters Responsible for Transportation and Highway Safety also assembled the Task Force on School Bus Safety. In Feb- ruary, prior to the release of the seatbelt pilot programs, the Task Force issued the report, “Strengthening School Bus Safety in Canada,” which concluded that three-point seatbelts can offer an addi- tional layer of safety and pilot programs are an important step at looking at that. The pilot program will include

equipping some new school buses with three-point seatbelts that follow the latest federal safety standards at the District of Sudbury, Ontario and Fraser Cascade #78 in British Columbia. Fraser Cascade #78 received three school buses with the three-point belts in August. Transportation Supervisor Franco Linza said the buses didn’t go into service until January because drivers had legal concerns about their responsibility if a child didn’t buckle up. To combat this, the district held training sessions with the children and administration that involved orientation of wearing seatbelts, the importance of safety and how to use them properly. Now, Linza said the three drivers with the lap/shoulder belts are very happy with the results, as children remain seated. “Buses are regarded as the safest form

of transportation for school children and now with the seatbelts, it has added even more safe measures in our duty to bring children to their destination,” he said, adding that any new bus the district purchases will include the safety restraints. ●

Charles Vits, a member of the Child Passenger Safety Board and market development manager SafeGuard, answered commonly asked questions by readers regarding lap/ shoulder seatbelts. Read his complete recommendations to the following FAQs at belt-resources.

What information is provided on injuries from the seatbelts?

When children are buckled up, school bus drivers can’t see the children. Can we lower the seatbacks?

Who is liable when students don’t buckle up?

If I install seatbelts, will I lose seating capacity?

How much time does it take to adjust the flexible seating seatbelt onto a student?

What if there is a fire on the bus and students can’t get out?

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