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Statement from NAPT on NHTSA Announcement

from NAPT

On Sunday, November 8 at the NAPT Summit in Richmond, Virginia attended by school bus officials from communities across the country, Dr. Mark Rosekind, Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) underscored that the yellow school bus is the safest way for children to get to and from school.

He also called for lap and shoulder seat belts in large school buses and outlined his agency's plans for communicating the benefits to state and local decision-makers — and possibly even opening a rulemaking process to require them.

For years, NAPT has been urging NHTSA to reinforce to the public that a yellow school bus is the safest way for children to get to and from school and explain in clear and unambiguous language why local officials across the country should select seat belts over other available choices that might also improve school transportation safety.

We thank Administrator Rosekind for sharing his thoughts and speaking candidly about his opinions. We are also pleased he acknowledged and emphasized that seat belts are but one component of the agency's interest in further improving the safety of school buses; he made clear a commitment to address loading zone safety, illegal passing of school buses, school zone speeding and school bus safety messaging

Absent a federal requirement for belts, NAPT continues to agree with NHTSA that it is most appropriate if the decision to order seat belts on large school buses were left to the States and local jurisdictions. States and local school districts are better able to recognize and analyze school transportation risks particular to their areas and identify approaches to best manage and reduce those safety risks. Local officials are in the best position to decide whether to purchase seat belts, since these officials must weigh a multitude of unique considerations bearing on purchasing decisions, especially when faced with budgetary constraints.

We look forward to working with NHTSA in the time to come. more

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