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To belt or not to belt?

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Title:
To belt or not to belt? experiences of school districts that operate large school buses equipped with seatbelts : final report
Portion of title:
Experiences of school districts that operate large school buses equipped with seatbelts
Physical Description:
xiv, 44, 12 p. : charts ; 28 cm.
Language:
English
Creator:
University of South Florida -- Center for Urban Transportation Research
Publisher:
Center for Urban Transportation Research, University of South Florida
Place of Publication:
Tampa, Fla
Publication Date:
Frequency:
daily

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
School buses -- Seat belts -- United States   ( lcsh )
School buses -- Safety appliances -- United States   ( lcsh )
School children -- Transportation -- United States   ( lcsh )

Notes

Additional Physical Form:
Also available online.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Center for Urban Transportation Research, College of Engineering, University of South Florida.
General Note:
"Prepared for the Florida Legislature."
General Note:
"August 1994."

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of South Florida Library
Holding Location:
University of South Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
aleph - 025970646
oclc - 32342207
usfldc doi - C01-00255
usfldc handle - c1.255
System ID:
SFS0032344:00001


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TO BELT or NOT TO BELT? Experie n c es of Schoo l Districts that Operate Large School Buse s Equipped with S eat belts Final R eport, August 1994 Pre p a red for the Florida legislature CUTR C enter for Urba n Trans portation Research College of En gineering + U niversity of South Flo ri da Tampa, Florida

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Executive Summary A national scale, exploratory tudy was conducted to collect information pertaining to the operational experien ces of the school districts in the U.S. that operote 20-pas.engcr or larger school buses (referred to hereafter as "large school buses ) equ ipped with seatbelts (lap-belts) to transport their generol student population. A mail-out, mail-back qu .. tionnaire was mailed to gather the requisite information from the student transportation director o r related personnel in the school districts included in the sample. The consisted of 814 school districts located in t 5 states representing cross sections of urban and rural American society. Of the 814 school districts included in the sample, 763 were located in New York State. This is primarily due to the fact that New York State began mandating the inotallation (but not the use) of seatbelts on july I, 1987. For purposes of this exploratory tudy, lhe terminology "general student population" was defined as including alltudents that are transported daily to and from school, excluding handicapped and phy.ically disabled students. In most school di>'tricts in the U.S., handicapped and physically disabled students are required to ride in school buses equipped wilh seatbelts due to their cognitive and/ or physical limitations. For this reason, this study focused only on lhe operational issues related to transporting non-handicapped and non-physically disabled stu dent s. I n d ivi duals with the safety of children transported in larg e school buses agree that reducing the probab i lity of death and injuries to these passengers is of paramount importance. The installation and use of seatbelts is among many strategies suggested to improve the safety of students transported in large school buses. Other strategies include on-board adult monitors, higher seat backs (24-inches, as measured from the seating reference point), crossing control arms, dual stop signal arms, extensive driver and student safety training, enforcement of laws against the illegal passing of stopped school buses, and rdlecti v e markings, to name but a few. Due to a lack of empirical evidence pertaining to the ctTectivencss (ability to reduce fatalities and injuries to school bus occup3nts when an -accident occurs) of seatbelts in large s.choo buses, it is difficult to quantitatively determine if seatbelts provide a significant measure of safety to the ocx:upanb of these Page ii.i

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school buses. For this reason, other questions must be answered, such as: "Will students tra .. eling in large school buse$ equipped with seatbelts use them?"; "Will the use of seatbelts in large school buses improve on board student conduct?"; and ''Are students using the seatbelts in these school buses for the purpose for which they were intended?,. To detennine the answers to these and other critical questions, the collection of infonnation on the operational experiences of these school is important in order to gain the necessal)' insight and understanding of the many tangential operational f3ctors that pertain to this issue. Com pil ation of this information will pennit a governmental or private entity contemplating the installa tion of sea tb elts to go beyond emotion, politics, and the few technieal studies that have investigated this issue and rely more on what is actually happening in the school districts in the U.S. that are currently using seatbelts in their large school The detailed results of this effort are c:ontained in this final report and condensed in this execu tive summary Through analyse s of the collected data from the returned questionnaires, the study found that : I Overwhelntingly, the majority of the students riding in seatbelt equipped large school bu.
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3. Student vandalism of the seatbelts ls The tabulated data from the returned 9ucstionnalrc indicated that 88. + percent of the responding school districts had experienced student vandalism (i.e., damage to the seatbelt buckle, Cutting of the seatbelt straps, etc. ) This student vandaUsm resulted in additional maintenanoe costs and additional school bus downtime for the repair of the vandalized seatbelts. 4 Ne-arl y 66 percent of the that indicated experiencing an accident invo1ving a $eatbdt e9uipped large school bus in their respective school district indica ted that there were no injuries to the passengers and that the presence or use of the seatbelts was not felt to be a factor related to the passengers recei\
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10. The results of a chisquare (X1 ) test of independence determined that a statistical relationship exists between a mandatory seatbclt use policy a nd actual student se-atbc l t use. In other words, the fact that a schoo l district has a mandatory seatbelt use policy has a positive effect on the likelihood or chance that students will use the seatbelts or, stated another way, according to the sample data, student schoo l bus seatbelt use is dependent on the presence of a mandatory school bus seatbelt usc pol i cy 11. Approximately 35.4 percent of the questionnaire r e spondents indicated being "very dissatisfied" with the performance of seatbelts in their large school buses, while only 3.8 percent indicated being "very satisfied. 12. A total of 6. 9 percent of the responding school districts indicated that the is;-ue of liability regarding the lack of seathelts in their large scho o l buses was a contributing factor that led to their installation. In addition, nenly 16 percent of the respondents indicated that they are concerned about the issue of liability related to the-enforcement of seatbelt use. 13. The tabulated data e\idenced that 18. 9 percent of the quc:::.tionnaire r-e. spondents indicated that the improper wearing (i.e., improper adjustment or placement across the pelvic region, etc.) of a seatbe1t by a student in the event of an accident that might result in an injury to the student is an issue in their school district. I 4. The tabulated data revealed that approldmately I 0. 7 percent of the responding school district.' do not provide instruction to their students regarding how to properly fasten and release the seatbelts, the correct placement of the seatbelts on the student'$ pel"i.c region, the time when the seatbelts s hould be fastened and released, and the acceptoble placement of the seatbdts when not in use IS. Approximately 3 percent of the res.pondents indicated that they did retrofit their school buses with seatbelts. This modest result is due to the problems. and possible risks associated with the retrotltting of-Seatbelts in school buses 16. As indicated by the tabulated data, the average cost to install seatbelts in newly purchased Type B school buses was approximately $1,633 per bus; for newly purchased Type C school buses the cost was approximately S 1,800 per bu>; and for newly purchased TypeD school buses the Co>t was approximately S 1 ,550 per bus See Table I, on page 6, to reference the different school bus type s 17 The tabulated data revealed that only 4.1 percent of the respondents indicated that the presence of seatbelts ir\ their large school buses might have contributed to students using the seatbehs in other vehicles It should be made dear to the reader, however, that the information related to this result purdy anecdotal in nature and that no concrete evidence exists to substantiate that a relation$hip exists 18. The tabulated data e videnced that the average (mean) cost of seatbelt maintenance due to student vandalism per year per school bus by type of school bus was approximately $348 per Type 6 ,chool bus, S603 per Type C school bus, and $596 per TypeD s<.-hool bus.

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As a direct outcome of the results from the tabQI..ted questionnoire data and due to the lack of conclusive evidence relating to the effectiveness of seatbelts in large school buses, the findings from this exploratory study indicates that policymakers and decisionmakers should examine the installation and the use of seatbe lts as well as a wide range of other strategies to improe the safety of children ridin g in school buses such as extensive safety training of the school bus drivers and students and protection of students in the school bus loading and unloading zones Also, since there is a dearth of empirical data relat ed to the efff!ctivcness of compared to other alternatives, factors such as capita l installation, and maintenance costs, the potential benefits in tenns of injuries reduced and lives saved, ease of implementation, and residual \'alue at the end of the service life span should be considered In addition, seatbelts are installed in larg e school buses and their usc mandated, then important questions related to education and enforcement need to be resolved. If the goal of a school district is universal usc of seatbelts by all passengers of large school buses, then the results from this ex-ploratory study suggest that a number of steps are required in addition to the installation of scatbelts including required use at all times, monitoring of use, clarification of the policies and procedures regarding enforcement of use, and consistency of the enforcement of the policies and procedures Lastly, the results from this study evidenced that enough large school bus accident data shoul d exist to compare the fotality and injury rates among belted and unbelted occupants of large school buses in the school districts included in the sample. Theref or e, an additional recommendation is to obtain multiple years of l arge school bus accident data from the school districts in the study sample and aMiyze i t to quantify the safety potential of seatbelts. Page vii

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P.o.gc vii_i

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Executive Summary Tables . Figures Foreword Acknowledgei1J e nts Contents 0 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 The School Bus Seatbclt ls..')uc , . . . . Purpose of Study . . . 8 Data Accumulation & Survey Methodology Questio n nair e D esign . . . Telephone Survey. . . . . Que stionnai re Mail Qut, Mail-Bock . . . . .. . . . . 0 Survey Analysis . . . . . . . . . . -. -. . . . . . . . 0 Results 1 Quest ion 2 Questio n 3. Question 4. QuestionS Question 6. Question 7. Question 8. Question 9 Question I 0 Question 1 t Question 12 Question t 3 Q u e stio n 14 Que$tion IS Ques ti o n 1 6 Question 17 Question 18 Page he ill xi xili 1 3 5 6 8 9 10 11 11 12 1 3 14 14 16 17 1 9 21 22 23 24 25 26 26 27 30 34 35 36

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Question 19 Que-stion 20 Question 2 t Question 2 2 Summary & Conclusions. Appe ndix A Questionnaire Appendix 8 -School Oitricts Included in the Study Sample Appendix C R esponse Rates by Question . . . . 37 38 39 40 41 1-a 1-b 1 -c

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Tables Table I Descrip t ion of School Bus Types 6 Tab l e 2 Year and Month that Sampled Schoo l Districts Began Using Sea tbdts 13 Table 3 to 2 . . . . . . . 14 Table4 Chi Square Con tingency Table of Expected Cell Frequencie. . 20 Tabl e 5 Res ponses to Question 7 . 2 1 Table 6 Responses to Question 9, Part B . . . . . . 2 4 Table 7 Responses to Question 11 . . . . . . 25 T a b l e 8 Responses to Question 14, Part B . . . -. . . . . 29 Table 9 Response.< to Question 14, Part C. 30 Table 1 0 R e sponses to Question 2 2 . . 4 1 Table 11 School Districts Included in the S tudy Sample . . 3 b Table 1 2 R esponse Ra t es by Questio n . . . . . . . . . . . 3 c

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Page x.ii

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F igiites Figure I Responses to Question 3, Part A 15 Figure 2 Responses t o Question 3, Part B . . . . . . IS Figure 3 Response s t o Question 3 Part C .. . . . . 15 Figure 4 Responses to Question 4. . . . . . 16 Figure 5 Resporu;es to Question 6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Figure 6 Responses t o Question 8. 22 Figure 7 Responses to Q u estio n 9, Part A . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Figure 8 Responses t o Q uestion I 0 . . . . . . 25 Figure 9 Res p onses to Question I 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 Figu r e 1 0 Responses to Question 1 3 27 F igure 11 Responses to Question 14, Part A 28 F igu r e 12 to Question 15, Part A 31 Figure 13 Responses to Question 16 35 Figure 1 4 Responses to Questio n I 7 . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 Figure I S Responses to Question 18 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Figure 16 Responses to Quertio n I 9 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 Figure 17 Respo n s e s to Question 20 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 Fig ure 18 Resporu.es to Q u estion 2 I . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 P age xiii

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Foreword The information contained in this national scale "!'\ oratory study provides a useful framework for examining the operational experien ces of the school districts m the United Sta tes tht currently operate seatbelt equip ped large school buses for transport of their general student population. A mail-out mail back questionnaire was administered to gather the requisite information from the school districts id entified by State Deportm e nts of Edu cation (DOE ) as having seatbelts in their large school buse s. Sin .ce this information was unknown by some State DOE the total number (universe) of school districts tha t meet the criteria (i.e the operation of seatbelt equipped large school buses used to trans port the general student p opulation) to be included in the sample remains unknown. R e gar d less, this shortcoming does not constrain the generalizations tha t are reasonable t o conclude from the observations made in this report s in ce an extensive representativ e sample was obtaine d The sample included 814 school districts in IS states representing diverse cro
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Poge2

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Aclmowleclgements CUTR wishes to thank all of the school district student transportation directors who responded to the questionnaires. CUTR also wishes to thank Ms. Louise Cald w ell and Mr. Charlie Hood of the Student Tra nsportation Management Section of the Florida Departm ent of Education for sharing their experiences, insighu and perspectives regarding the issue of school bus safety.

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Introduction This report presents the results of a national exploratory study that focused on gathering information related to the operational experiences of school districts in the U.S. that CWTently operate seatbelt equipped large school buses for transport of their general student population. For purposes of this exploratory study, the terminology "general student population" was defined as all students that are transported daily to and from school, excluding handicapped and physically disabled students. In most school districts in the U.S. handicapped and physically disabled students are required to ride in sch ool buses equipped with seatbelts due to their cognitive and/ or physical limitations. For this reason, this study focused only on the operational issues related to transporting non-handicapped and non-physically-disabled students. Nevertheless, accounts of these operational expmences came from a diverse cross-section of school districts throughout the U.S. rep resenting broad segments of urban and rural American society. This body of work builds upon a study' completed in August 1993 for the Florida Legislature that investigated the potential beneSts that may be derived from the use of seatbelts in large Florida school buses. School buses with a measured gross vehicle weight of less than 10,000 lbs. (usually Type A) are required by Federal Motor Vehicle Standard (FMVSS) 222 to be equipped withseatbelts for both the driver and passengers. School buses with a gross vehicle weight greater than 10,000 lbs. (usually Types 8, C, and D) are required to have a seathelt for the driver only. Since Type A school buses are mandated by f edera l law to have seatbelts as standard equipment for both passengers and the driver, they were deemed irrelevant for inclusi on in this exploratory study. For clarification, Table I on page 6, provides a description of the four different school bus type s This report begins 'vith a brief overview o f the issue of the installation of seatbelts in large school buses. Next, the methodology of the administration of the questionnaire is reviewed and the sample response rate is provided The preliminary discussion of the questionnaire is followed by the interpretation of the accwnulated data. Analysis of the re.ults is discussed question by question. The results for each question are accompanied by text that points to any findings that are significant. In addition to the narratives, corollary data in graphical and/ or tabular format are provided for each question Th e report concludes 'C.nm for Urban Transportation Reseoroh. August 1 993 F!.riJa Schocl Bus Ocoupgnt Safoty R.pon. U.uw..;ty of South Florida, Tampa. Florida. PageS

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with a brief summary and diJcwsion of the implications and relevance of the Sndings as they relate to the issue of seathelts in large school buses. A copy of the questionnaire is provided in Appenc:Ux A and a listing of the school districts included in the sample that currently operate seatbelt equipped larg e school buses for transport of their general student population is contained in Table 11, in Appendix B. Table I 0 The School Bus Seathelt Issue The ability of safety restraints to reduce fatalities and serious injuries 10 automobile occupants when accidents occur has been recognized,' resulting in their mandatory use in all but two states.' Currentl y, the Federal government requires that three-point safety restraints (la p-belt with a single shoulder harness) be installed as standard equipment in the front outboard seating positions of automoblles, Ught trucks, and 'Campbell, B.J. 1986 Th Eff..t;.., ... .f R .. r-S..t Z..,.BJt, '" c,...h li'Y l?.Jucti Held in Tokyo, Japon; D.F. 1981. "Effect;...,.,. of Occupant Reehainb in Red\lcing Seri.ow lnjuriet and Presented tbe Intemational Sympotium On Occupant Reetraint, Toronto, Ca...la; M.gh.oodloo, S., et al. 1989. "A Quannf;cation of the lmp&ct of Reetraining SYI'tem on Paetenger S.fety. Jooml.f S.j.ty Ru .. ..J. 20(3P 15-28; McGee, D.L, and P Rhod... 1989 "Etimating Trend. in the Elfoctiven ... of Seat Belto in Saving L ... 1975-1985." St in Preventing Fatalitiee." &c;k.t An.lyo; & P,....,tion Joum.! 18(3),229 41; Kerwin, E.M., et al. 1985. "Seat Belt Effecnv.n ... in lnjury-Pra
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vans. By 1995, all automobile by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to install three-point safety restraints in the rear outboard seating positions as standard equipment as well ; currently, only lap-belt type s afety restraints are required. Although seatbelts in automobiles, light trucks, and vans have proven to be effec tive life -saving and injury-mitiga ting devices, their effectiveness in heavier vehicles, such as heavy trucks, tn\n.Sit buses, and large school bu!Jes, has yet to be empirically documented. Since scathe Its ha-ve proven to be v ery effective in mitigating the number of serious injurie$ and fatalities in automobiles, It is frequently assumed by the general public that their availability and use i n l arge chool buses would produce tbe same benefit. Among the professional community involved with student transportation and safety, however, controversy exists re_garding just how effective the provision of seatbelts and mandatory seatbelt use laws would be in reducing fatalities and injuries to occupants of large school buses. The debate is controversial, and both sides of the issue make strong c .. es in support of their vie ws Proponents of seatbelts in large school buses concede that the requirement of" compartmentalization"' is effective in reducing fatalities and injuries, but argue that when comb ined with seatbelt use, fatality and injury rates could be reduced even further. They contend as well that requiring seatbelts in large school buses will reinforce the habit of young children "buckling up" when they ride in a private vehicle and, as a consequence, seatbelt usage will"carryovcr" into adulthood. Also, they believe that seatbelt use will improve on-board student behavior and decrease driver distractions. translating into the possible avoidance of accidents. La.tly, proponents argue that the cost of installing seatbelts is minimal, no more than $1 ,000 to $2 ,000 per large school bus or approximately S 15 to S30 per seating position. < Comparlrn.-ntolization, as set forti, in F.de-ral Motox V ebicle S.fety Standard 222, requires that seats mut be spac.d no more than apMt 01 mea.eured from the seating reference point (point at which the human torso ;md thigh pivot) and seat-back height ;,uol be a minimum of 20-incheo to tl.e top of the oeatb.ck., meaured from the sealing rcfcronce point. Also, limitations a.e p l aced on tl.e amount of seatb.ok deReetion Loth forwatd and backward. By adhering to thC8C speaifioations, a compartment is cteQ.tcd which i& intettdecl to reatcain the school Lus occrupant thereby l imiting the severity of inj..ries in the event of an accident.

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Opponents of seatbelts argue that large school buses, because of their weight and large size, distinct yellow color, well-lcnown and careiUlly selected routes, governed operating speed, and unique occupant and structural safety desi.gn features (as required by FMVSS 220,' 221 ,'and 2228 ) are inherently safer than automobiles, vans, and Ught trucks and, conoequently do not need seatbelts to improve occupant safety. Opponents also contend that, in the case of serious accidents, seatbelts may actually increase the likelihood o f in j ury and can imperil school bus occupants in accidents involving lire and rollovers. Also, the argument has been put forth that if school b us drivers or other respons i ble onboard personnel (adult monitors or student patrols) do not insist that children wear the seatbelts, the potential carryover" e ffect will be lost and could cause the children to become desensitized to seatbelt usage and "carryo ver" the message that they do not have to wear the m in other modes of surface transportation Lastly, opponents are critical of the cost effectiveness of seatbelts arguing that the funds that would be expended for seatbelts would be better spent on other, more effective safety optioru such as improved driver 1raining higher seat-backs ("N e w York., seats), crossing control arms, increased enforcement of laws against the p3.$$ing of stopped school bu e s and adult school bus monitors Purpose of Study The importance of reducing the probabiUty of death and injuri e s to passengers of aU school buses is of paramount importance. Due to alack of empirical evidence pertaining to the effectiven.,. s (ability t o reduc e fatalities and injuries to school bus occupants when an accident occurs) of s e atbelts i n large school bus.,., it is difficult to quantitatively determine if they provide a significant measure of safety to the occupants of these school buses. For this r e ason, o th e r questions must be answered, such as: .. Will FMVS S 220. S chool Bus Rollo'"" Proteciion (49 CFR 571.220) specifies performance requirements fo r the ,-mactural integrity o f the passenger oompa.rtment o f school b u m when tub j ec t ed to f o tcet t hat may be i n rollover cruhes FMVSS 220 appl i e to ll O
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students traveling in large school buses equipptd use them?"; "Will the use of seatbelts in large school buses improve on-board student conduct?"; and "Axe students using the seatbelts in these school buses for the purpose for which they were intended?" To 6nd the answers to these and other critical questions, the collection of information on the operational experiences of these school districts is important in order to gain the necessary insight and understanding of the many tangential operational factors that pertain to this issue. Compilation of this information will permit a governmental or private entity contemplating the installation of seatbelts to go beyond emotion, politics, and the few technical studies' that have investigated this issue and rely more on what is actually happening in the school districts that are currently using seatbelts in their large school buses This report presents the results of such an effort. Data Accumulation & Survey Methodology The accumulation of the data was conducted in three phases: ( 1 ) design of the questionnaire; (2) conducting of a telephone survey; and (3) the mailing of the questionnaires. The specifics of the data colle<:tion are contained in the ensuing sections. Questionna;re Duign The first task was to deve l op and design a questionnaire that focused on gathering information on the operational experiences of the school districts in the sample. A draft questionnaire was de.igned and pretested by the Student Transportation Management Section (STMS) of the Florida Department of Education (DOE) and by other individuals knowledgeable about school bus safety. With their assistance, several questions were revised, several questions were deleted, and se\eral new questions were added. in designing the layout of the questionnaire, three basic que>1ionnaire design tenets were followed. First, the questions were ordered according to their perceived importance to the respondent, i.e., those 'Nation.! Transportation Safety Bo.td. 198:1. Safoty StudyCr .. hworil.i,...s o/ Largo Poststandard Sch..J Busu. Bureau of Safety Prognuno. w .. lungton, D C ; Pan, O.N. 1985. Sck..l Bus &j.ty Study-Volum I. Tr.ffic s.f.ty Standards and Rs.earch. Transport Canada, OUa..., On Iorio, Canada; Urcell, C R 1 'f].7. A Study Relating to S..,t B.lt. /or Use in Bu .. s. Southu..,t Research lnstituto, San Antonio, Ten>; Northrop et al. 1980. Stat;stica/ Evaluation ol tJ.. Eff.cti,.neu I F.J ...J Motor V.hid. Safty Standard 222, ScJ...I Bus Passenger S.,ting and Cra.J. Prokction. U.S. Dop..rtmont ol T ransporlotion, W .. hmgton, D.C; T ,.,.porlaaon Research Board. 1989. Improving Sd...l Bu &fo
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questions which the respondent would personally find most important came first, and those least important to the respondent came last. For example, Question 3, which ask.., "What was the average additional cost by school bus type when ordering eatbelts as standard equipment on new .chool buses?, is likely to be viewed by respondents as having more utility than Question 20, which ask. them to rate their extent of satisfaction, via an attitudinal scale, with the perfonnance of seatbelts in their large school buses. Although Question 20 is very important to the study's overall objective, it may be perceived by the respondents as not having as much utility as the aforementioned question. For this reason, the questions that lacked obvious utility were located near the end of the questionnaire. Second, questions were clustered according to the information being requested. lb.is means, for example, that the questions asking for information about the various school bus types and the cost of seatbelt installation were clustered together. This clustering of similar questions served two purposes: first, it diminished respondent effort in gathering the necessary information, preventing them from constantly having to switch back and forth from one question format to another and second, it encouraged them to provide thoughtful and well-founded responses, particularly to the opened-ended questions; something that i s likely to occur if the respondent feels that the questions are in an order that facilitates ease of retort. Third, the ordering of the questions attempted to cognitively tie certain questions together in a fashion that creates a sense of vertical flow or continuity throughout the entire questionnaire. This questionnaire design tenet was especially important sin<:e the que.tionn.aire requested a variety of responses based on facts, opinions, attitudes, and knowledge and/or the two question types, open and closed-ended. A copy of the instrument has been provided for reference in Appendix A. Tolophono S"""'Y A telephone survey was conducted in September 1993 to inventory the school districts in the U.S. that currently operate large .chool buses equipped with seatbelts for transport of their general student population. Each of the SO state student transportation directors was telephoned and requested to identify the school districts in their respective states that should be included in the mail-out, mail-back portion of the data collection effort. A total of 4 7 of the 50 state student transportation directors w ere able to Page 10

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identify the exact number of schooi districts tHat met the criteria to be included in the sample. 1bree states could not provide the requested information. The telephone survey identi6ed 814 school districts in IS states that CWTently operate large school buses equipped with seatbelt> to transport their general student population. Of the 814 school districts included in the sample, 763 were located in New York State 1bls is primarily due to the fact that New York State began mandating the installation not the use) of seatbelts in lrge school buses on July I, 1987. Tab le 11, in Appendix B, provid es a listing of the states and school districts identified in the telephone survey. Quutionnair, student on board conduct as related to the provision of the seatbelts grad e levels served by the s eatbelt equipped schoo l buses, and the voluntary or mandatory use of seatbelts. Survey Analysis Each question is analyzed independently and the results of each question and its various parts are provided in a combination of figures and, when appUcable, tables The figures and tables are accompanied by brief narratives that explain the relevance of the findings In addition to the standard frequency distributions, several crosstabulations were performed as part of the overall analysis of the data The tlndings from the crosstabulations are incorporated into the appropriate sections of the report. The crosstabulations are also accompanied by narratives that explain the reasoning behind performing the crosstabulation and highlight the significant tlndings. A figure and/ or table is provided for each c r osstabulation Pagell

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A total of 814 questionnaires was moiled out and 154 responses were received. This represented a sample response rate of approximately 19 percent. All answered questions were included in the analy
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Question 1 When did your school district begin using seatbelts jn your 20-passenger or larger school bYSe Objective. The question was asked to solicit the school districts included in the sample to provide the yeill" and month in which they began using seatbelrs in their large school buses. Reaults. Table 2 provides a matrix of the year and month of seathelt installation provided by the questionn>ire respondents. of the table shows that 26.8 percent of the school districts that responded to the questionnaire began using seatbelrs in their large school buses in July and September 1987. lhis outcome is the result of the presence of the New York State school distlicts in the sample Of the 814 school.distlicts included in the sample, 763 were located in New York. Approximately 89 percent of the school distlicts that responded to the questionnaire were from New York State. Large school buses operated in New York after july I, 1987, are required by New York State Law to have seatbelrs installed as standard equipment. The table also shows that some of the responding school distlicts began using seatbelts in their large school buses as early as September 1969 and as late as june 1993. Table Z Year and Mouth that Sampled School Districts Begm lhing Seatbelg Yu 1982 1984 ,., 1986 1!>88 1989 1990 Pall< 13

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Question 2 How mao,v school buses by t>:P ace equjpp:d wicb. sea !belts for rrwpon oftbe general student pgpulat:jon. excluding '{l;ze A school buses. in your school djsqicrl Objective. The question was asked to detennine the average (mean) and aggregate number of larg e school buses equipped with seatbelts operated by the school districts included in the sample. Reoults. Inspection of Table 3 illustrates that the responding school districts currently operate an average (mean) of 13.2 Type B school buses, 23. 3 Type C school buses, and 9.3 TypeD school buses I n addition, the school districts that responded to this question currently operate a total of 992 Type B school buses, 2,035 Type C school buses, and 315 TypeD school buses. The high share of Type Cor conventional school buses is an expected o utcome since the majority of school buses operated in the U .S. are of the Type C variety Table 3 3,34 2 Question3 What was the average additional cost by .school bw Qepe when orden'ng g.ubelrs as standard equipment on new buses? Objective. The intent of this question was to obtain current information regarding the installation cost of seatbelts in large school buses operated by the school districts included in the sample. It is anticipated that the compilation of these data will provide a reference point of cost or standard measure for an entity contemplating the installation of seatbelts in their large school buses. Pogo 14

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Results. The tabulated data indicated that of seatbelt installation for Type B school buses was approximately $ 1,633 per bus, for Type C school b=s the oost was approximately $1,800 per bus, and for Type D school buses the oost was approximately $1,550 per bus. The responses to Question 3 are contained in Figures I 2, 31ld 3. Figure I Responaes to Question 3, Pan A Figure 2 ReapoDSCs to Question 3, Part B Figure 3 Responses to Question 3, Put C

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Question4 Did your school district retrolit ,u or a portion qfyow qr Iaeger school byses that are cum:ntlv jo use with seatbehsl Objective. Many school bus manufacturers, NHTSA, and well organized groups concerned with school bus safety recommend against retrofitting school buses with seatbelts for several reasons. Chiefly among these reasons are that the 39inch wide school bus bench seat may not be anchored to the floor adequately and the consttuction of the bench seat frame may be structurally inadequate to withstand the forces generated by the seatbelts in the event of an accident. Also, the strength of the school bus floor may have deteriorated due to the weather and constant maintenance. NHTSA recommends that if a school district chooses to retrofit, all systems (bench seats, etc.) be reinforced, but principally among these systems, it is paramount that the school bus floor be reinforced to the strength of a floor in a new school bus Therefore, the intent of this question was to determine if any of the school districts included in the sample retrofitted their school buses with s eatbelts. Results. Given the many potential pitfall$ .,sociated with retrofitting seatbelts in school buses, the tabulated data indicated that only 2. 9 percent of the respondents retrofitted their school buses with ,eatbelts. The vast majority of the respondents had seatbelts installed as standard equipment when the school buses were newly purchased. The responses to Question 4 are illustrated in Figure 4. '"" Figure. Rupoua to 4 n .J% No Pagel6

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QuestionS How did th e provision ofseatbelq come about in your school distrlctl Please e laborate. Oh;eotivo. The question was asked to detennine what impetus caused the sc hool districts included in the sample to begin using seatbehs in the.ir large school buses for transport of their general student population. As mentioned previously, survey questions may either be of the open ended or closed-ended type. An open ended question su ch as Question 5, requires that respondents answer in their own words; a c losed ended question asks that respondents choose &om a list of discrete responses or provide an exact number that represents the.ir most appropriate response. In the latter question type, for example, respondents ma y indicate whether they strongly agree, moderately agree, or s trongly disagree wi1h a particular statement or they may be asked to indicate the.ir exact age, in years. The open-ended responses to Question 5 are listed below and were taken directl y from th e returned questionnaires on which they appeared The replies have been edited for clarity and they are liste d in no particular order. Results. The majority of the respondents indicated that co n cerned pare nts, organized citizen groups, boards of education and state law (New York) were the basis for the installation of seatbelts in their large school buses. Edited versions of the various comments are provided below. Rilsponcknt Comments to Question 5 .. "N e w York State law. It was a bureaucrati c quick 6x to an e m otional issue that, on paper,looked good but In practice had n o impact but to raise the cost of doing business and to reduce the amount of available funds for important bus safety programs that would save lives. I firmly believe that the money spent on lap-belts could be better utilized and would save more lives if it was spent on bus driver and student safety training." "It ham't, really. It is still a controversial and largely unexplored issue. Perhaps if someone c an provide a test that proves that they (seatbelts] would improve student safety, more would utilize them (seatbelts]." When New York State mandated them [seatbelts] otherwise we would not have them [seatbelts]." Page 17

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"Parental request school committee unenthusiastically voted to install. School administration recommended against.'' "Voted by school committee in response to parental requests. "Mandatory seatbelt law no say in the matter." "After reviewing the research, the Administration, School Board, and Finance Committee strongly recommended against seatbelts. However, some of the mothen spoke at town meeting in favor of them [seatb elts ) and the town meeting voted to install them. Very bad decision, nuny injuries and hassles. them as a seatbelt." (no emphasis added) "Parent and staff started due to the death of a child (riding on a school bus) in New York State." "Parents began campaign to h av e them [seatbe lts) installed Gathered information to bring to school board, and it was adopted in 1984." "The Board of Education adopted a policy that aU school vehicles be equipped with seatbelts." "Public pre,.ure resulted in the ordering of seatbelts in all new school buses." "Request of citien groups and Safety Committee of the Board of Education." "State mandated [New York State] we are not in favor of seatbelts on new school buses. New school buses are built with a lot of protection for the passenger (compartrnentali .. tion). [Seat) belts cause too many problems students hitting each other and hooking them across aisle to trip other students, etc. To work properly, you need shoulder belts." "Parental concerns. "We bad no choice. [New York] State required them to be installed for every child. If I had my choice I wouldn t have any (seat] belts except for the driver." "By parents at Board of Educatio n meeting." "Parents!" "New Yor!< State mandates that all >chool buses in use after july 1, 1987, have seatbelts as standard equipment. We (.chool districts) have no choice." "New York State Law. We held public .chool district meetings to inform public few people attended. Those who attended requested that we J:iQI require students to use the [sea t) belts." [no empb.,is added] "Parental request." Par ents wanted all school buses to have seathelts." "Long Island PTO (parent/teachers organization) lobb i ed." 'Recognizing that a seathelt law was about to he enacted, the Board of Education required seatbelts in newly purchased school buses." "A few vocal people using emotion a l basis and ignoring factual test data." "Public pre-ssure!" "PTSA and Mr. Cuomo's brainstorm." "School Board needed funds to replace 14-year old school buses. We asked the County Boar d for money for new buses. A kindergarten child and her parents spoke to the County Board and stated that she had slipped on the seat when bus was in motion and wanted seatbelts to correct the problem. County Board PagelS

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stated that they would provide funds for new lilllong as they would be equipped with seatbe l ts." "School Board members." "Board of Education and PTA requested them (seatbelts]." Question6 Qoe._q your g;hool disrrjct baye a fqcmal,rzoUr;y that MANDATES th e USE (as oppqspd to the voluntaq usq> of.seatkelts in your 2Q.pi!ssenger or larger school busesl Objective. The question was designed to detennine what percentage of the school districts included in the sample mandate the use of seathelts in their large school buses. Results. The data revealed that only 6 percent of the respondents have a formal policy in place that mandates the usc of seatbelts in their large school buses. Again, this result arises partially from the presence of the New York school districts in the sample. The replies to Question 6 are shown in Figure 5. 100% figure 5 Responses to Question 6 "" Ya No Further analysis of the data revealed that approximately 3 percent of the New York school districts that responded to dle questionnaire have a formal policy in place that mandates the use of the seathelts in their large school buses even though seatbelt use is not mandated by their state. In addition, crosstabulations of Question 6-by Question 20 and Question 6-by -Questio n 8 revealed that the school districts that indicated having a mandatory seatbelt use policy reported a much higher degree of satisfaction widl the performance Page 19

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of their seathelts and, also, they reported a much higher percent of student usage of the seathelts than did the school districts without a mandatory seathelt use policy. It appears from d>e analysis of the coUected data that the existence and enforcement of a mandatory school bus seathelt use policy is essential in order to attain high student usage of the seatbelts. A test of the possible effects of a mandatory use policy on actual student seatbelt use was conducted to determine if the mandatory se atbelt use policy tells us anything about the likelihood that the srudents riding in the school buses will use the eatbelts a higher percentage of the time. One commonly used method or statistic for testing such a hypothesis is a chi-square (X') test. Results of the X test evidenced that the relationship is statistically significant and, therefore, did not occur by chance. Stated another way, the results from the x' test showed that student school bus seathelt use is dependent on the presence of a mandatory school bus seatbelt use policy. Table 4 presents the results from the x' test Tabk4 Cbi-Sq...., C...tizog....,. Table oi Expeceed Cdl frecpa>d
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Question 7 If YES ro question 6. who js responsible fqr ensuring that students properly we;Jr the seatbelt, while on board the school busl (please checlc .1.U, that apply) Objective. The question was asked to determine, if the: respondent answered "YES". to Question 6, what mechanism i s in place in the school district to ensure that students will properlybuckle, position, and adjust the seatbelts while traveling on-board the school bus. Respondents weTe instructed to leave Question 7 b lank if they replied ":t!Q" to Qucstion 6. . Rcrults. In Quetion 7 the respondents were given five choices from which to select. The respondents were instructed to indicate all of the methods that arc utilied by their particular school district. With regard to the Other" category 1 the respondent! were asked to provide a specific brief written answer. As shown in Table 5, 62.5 peroent of the re$ponde.nts indicated that the school bus driver i'i the person responsible for ensuring that the students properly buckle, position, and adjust the seatbelts while traveling on-board the school bus. After the response "school bus driver," the respon dents indicated, in order, on board adult school buo monitors (18.75%), a designated student (12.5%), and a student patrol (-6.25%). In no instance did a respondent provide a brief written reply for the "Other" category nor indicate more than one of the five possible choices. Table 5 Page 21

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Question 8 What perrenlig.e gf vow students use the searfx:lttl Ohjective Many school officials, educators, and parents share the that routine school bus seatbelt use would be habit forming They maintain that the habitual use of school bus seatbelts would lead to further use of seatbelts in private automobiles. Because this habit fonnation, also know as the carryover" effect, depends upon school bus seatbelt use, actual school bus seatbelt use warrants a thoughtful examination. The question was asked t o gather an estimation of the percentage of students who are actually using the seatbelts in the schoo l districts included in the sample. Results. The majority of the respondents, 77.5 percent, indicated that their students are using the seatbelts 10 percent or less of the time when riding in their school buses, while only 6.1 percent of the respondents indicated that their students are using the seatbelts S I percent or more of the time The responses to Question 8 are shown in Figure 6. Figw-o 6 !Wpo,_ to Quettio.a 8 thu:a S'}i 6%to 10% u.% t()SO% Wt.to?S% "" SO% '""" Page 22

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Question 9 Has there been student vandalism oftbe seat lmlts that has resulted in additional maintenance costsl Objective. This question was asked to determine what percentage of the school districts included in the sample had experienced student vandalism of their seatbelts. Question 9 was comprised of two ports. Part A required the respondents to merely reply "XES" or "NO" to the stated question. In Part B, if the respondents replied "XES" to Part A of this question, the respondents were requested to estima t e the additional maintenance costs per year per school bus by type of school bus due to the student vandalism Results. The tabulated data for Part A revealed that 88.4 percent of the survey respondents indicated that their students had vandallzed the seatbelts; only 11.6 percent of the respondents indicated that they had not experienced any student vandalism of the seatbelts. The responses to Question 9, Part A, are Ulustrated in Figure 7. F i 7 RespnDSes lO 9, Part A Table 6 denotes the respondent replies to Part B of Question 9. The data contained in the table evidences that the average (mean) seatbelt maintenance cost per year per school bus by type of school bus was approximately S348 per Type B school bus, $604 per Type C school bus, and S596 per TypeD school bus. Page23

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The table also shows the minimum and maximum seathclt maintenance costs per year per school bus by school bus type. Table 6 Question 10 Are school buses withheld from c/aiJr setyice in vouc @.qol district ifseatbeJts are inoperable? Objective. The question was asked to detennlne what p<:rcentage of the school districts included in the sample withhold their school buses from daily service if a single set of seathelts are found to b e inoperable at the start of a particular school day Reoults. The tabulated data indicated that 6+.6 percent of the respondents withhold a school bus from dai ly senice if a single set of seatbelts is found to be inoperable at the beginning of a school day. Conversely, 35.4 p ercent indicated that the school bus is placed in service even if a single set of seatbelts is found to be inoperable. A. a solution to inoperable seathelts, many of the respondents that indicated that they withhold a school bus from daily senice commented that replacement school buses equipped with seatbelts are routed in place of the $c:hool buses that are withheld from daily service. However, several of the respondents commented that they cannot afford to keep an adequate number of spare large school buses available to route in place of those with inoperable seatbelts. The responses to Question I 0 are depieted in Figure 8 Page 24

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Question 11 Figure 8 Reapoues to Question 10 ...... If YES to question 10, wbat is the number of vehicle days of downtime .oer school bus? Objective. The objective of Question II was to detennine, if the respondent answered "XES" "to Question I 0, the nwnber of vehicle days of downtime per school bus experienced by the school districts included in 1he sample. Results. The tabulated data from the responses to Question II revealed tbat 69.4 percent of the respondents that repUed "lEi" to Question 10 experienced I day of downtime per 5chool bus In addition, 24.5 and 6.1 percent of the resp<>ndents indicated experiencing between 2 and 5 or 6 days or more of downtime per scbool bus, respectively, as shown in Table 7. Table 7 to 11 Pagc25

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Question 12 Docs your school disr:rjct provide students with irutruction rr.gvding how to (#C tbe scatbelt,sl Objective. The purpose of asking t!Us question was to determine what percentage of the school districts included in the sam ple provide their students with instruction regarding how to properly use the sea tbelts. Results. Only 10 7 percent o f the school districts that responded to the survey do not train nor provide instruction to students regarding how to properly use the seatbelts. During the three annual school bus fire drills mandated by the State of New York for examp l e all school districts are charged with providing instruction to students in the use of the seatbelts This instruction include s the p roper fastening and release of the seatbe lts, the correct placement of the seatbelts on the student's pelvic region, the times at which the seatbelts should be fastened and released, and the acceptable placement of the seatbelts when not in use. The responses to Question 12 are shown in Figure 9. Question 13 Rcspo,.... to Qualioll 12 ln your o.pinioo. bas on-board pwegger conduct in your school di.st:cjct impmwl as a .1ult g the proyisign ofseatbdtsl Objective. A school d i strict that is contemplating a '"'atbelt program or the installation of seatbelts i n their large $ Chool buses might asswne thatsuch an effort woul d have a positive effect on student on-board Page 26

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conduct because of improved discipline stlidi!ntS iiotbeing able to stand, move about inside the school bus, or generally display boisterous behavior. Consequently, many individuals believe that improved student onboard conduct is one of the major benefits of a school bus seatbelt program. The intent of this question, therefore was to determine if perceptions of on-board student conduct had improved as a result of the provision of seatbelts in the sampled school districts. Results. Of the school districts that returned the questionnaire for analysis, 90.4 percent indicated that on-board student conduct had oot improved as a result of the provision of seatbelts. Additionally, orne of the respondents conunented that on-board student conduct had, in fact, deteriorated as a .... ult of the provision of scatbelts in their school districts. No speci6c reason(s) for the det eriorizatio n was given by the respondents. However, one respondent noted that onboard student conduct had improved, but only among elementary students. The responses to Question 13 are reiterated in Figure I 0. Question 14 Figun: 10 RespoMea to Question 13 ...... Yu No Haye you cxp<:ritmced any yehide accidegt(s) jnvolving seatbglt equiJ?ped school bvse,-;? Objective. This question and its various parts was asked to determine if the school districts in the samp le had experienced any accidents involving their large school buses, how many accidents they had PagcZl

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experienced, if any at all, and if the presence or we of the seatbelts had a bene6cial, neutral, or deleterious effe<:t on the outcome of passenger injury severity. Question 14 was comprised of three separate parts. In Part A of Question 14, the respondents were instructed to merely reply either "YES" or "HQ" to the stated question. If the respondents answered "HQ" to Part A of Question 14 they were directed to proceed to Question 15. However, if the responden t answered "n.S:" to Part A of Question 14, they were requested to provide ans-wers to the two additional parts of Question 14. In Part B, if the respondents answered "IES" to Part A, they were requested to provide the exact nwnber of a ccidents involving the seatbelt equipped large school buses operated by their school district. In Part C, the respondents were provided with five different scenarios and asked to indicate which one best characterized each of the accidents. When applicable, the respondents were instructed to indicate more than one scenario Results. The tabulated responses for Part A of Question 14 revealed that 55 percent of the responding school districts experienced an accident involving a seatbelt equipped large school bus. Figure II portrays the responses to Question 14, Part A. Fi II Respoasa to r.ution 14. Part A SS% Page 28

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The responses to Part B of Question 14 are slioWn:ili: 'i'aiile' S : The tabulated data evidenced that 80 percent of the respondents that indicated "IES" to Part A of Question 1 4 experienced between I and 6 accidents involving their seatbelt equipped large school buses. In addition, the average (mean} number of accidents was calculated to be 5 .867 accidents per responding school district and the total number of accidents was 352 with only 14 (4%} of these accidents resulting in some type of injury to a student. TableS In Part C of Question 14, the tabulated data showed that 65.9 percent of the r.,pondents that indicated experiencing an aocident involving a seatbelt equipped large school bus responded that there were no Injuries to the passengers and that the presence or use of the seatbelu was not felt to be a factor related to the passengers reccivlng no Injuries and 9. 7 percent of the respondents indicated that there were no injuries to their school bus passeng ers and that the presence or use of seatbelts was felt to be a c ontributing factor. In addition, 5 2 percent of the respondents indicated that there were injuries to passengers in spite of using the seatbelts, and 4.3 percent of the respondents indicated that there were injuries to passengers potentially resulting from the use of the seatbelts The responses to Part C of Question 1 4 are shown in Table 9.

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Table 9 PartC Question 15 Have you experienced an izijyey ro a school bus passenger that w,u the result ofintcnQona/ or unintentional seatbeh misuse? Objective. The objective of this question was to determine if the school districts included in the s.1mple had experienced any injuries to 5dlool bus pa.ss,engers that were the result of intentional or unintentioMl seathelt misuse Question 1 S wa.s comprised of two parts In Part A, the respondents were required to reply either "YES." or "NQ" to the stated question. If the respondents answered "HQ" to Part A of Question I 5 they were to proceed to Question 16. In Part B, if the respondent answered m" to Part A, they were to provide a speci6c written open-ended comment(s) in the provided spaces. The oomments below were taken directly from the responses to Question IS. The responses have been edited for clarity. Re1ults. The tabulated data from Part A revealed that 57.8 percent of the respondents indicated that they had experienced an injury to a school bus passenger that was the result of intentional or unintentional seatbelt misuse. The responses to Part A of Question I 5 are provided in Figure 12. Page30

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. . Respotuea to Qoeatioa 15, Part A S7.8'Yt Many respondents indicated that the primary instances of intentional $eatbclt were studcmts using the seatbe:lts as weapons to strike other students. In addition, respondents noted that it is alw common for students to tie or buckle the .seatbelt:s across the aisles, causing other boarding or alighting students to trip over the maze created by the seatbelts. Respontknt Comment$ to Question 15, Part B ... "Students use [seat ] belts as weapons Hitting each other with [seatbelt] buckle ends and an attempted strangulation [with the seatbelt]. We have more injuri es than [are caused by school bus] accidents due to improper use of seatbelts." "Using [seat) belts to hit with; cut eye and tie them together across aisles." "improper use of [seat] belt allowed a handicap child to fall out of the seat and receive an injury." "The accident was today a kindergarten child stuck his finger in the [seat) belt buckle and could not get out. The seatbelt was cut and the buckle was removed at the hospital with a hacksaw." "Hi t each other with the [seat) belts ; chipped and knocked out teeth; eye injuries; midd le school students tie belts together across the aisles creating a maze several serious accidents including a knee injury requiring extensive surgery resulted." "Struck other student in hand with the buckle "Use as a weapon." "Students we the e nd of the [scat) b el t as a weapon buckle the [seaf) belts across the aisles at night. "Students hitting each other over the head with them (seatbelts)." "Buckling across aisles; ilitting other children." "Students wing the seatbelts as weapons to strike other students." Page31

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"[Seat) belt used., a weapon "Students hitting other students with the seathelt; students cutting ends off seathelts and throwing them." "Hit with [seatbelt] buckle "Hit with seatbelt. "Kindergarten student got his thumb stuck in the ( seatbelt) buckle had to cut off ( seat] belt and transport the student to the hosp i tal." "Using seatbelts to trip other students --using seatbelts to swing at other students. 'Tripping (students] when (seatbelts] tied across ai
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"A girl was hit in the face with seatbelt stndent. The girl was close to having eye damage. There were others." "Students cutting seatbelt ends off and throwing them around while on the school bus." "Intentional--students hitting otber students with [scat] belts." Hitting other students with them and buckling them across the aisle and tripping other students." Students playing and S\vinging seatbelts and as a result a student was cut on bridge of nose by another student." "[Seathelt] buckles used to strike other passengers and [seat] belts stretched across aisle to cause tripping." "(Student] hit in head with [seatbelt] buckle. "[Seat] belts are lengthened to their maximum and used in a swinging motion to strike other passengers." "Hitting others with [seatbelt] buckles, buckling them across the aisle to trip other students, pinching fingers in seatbelts." "Five year-old student got his fmger stuck in seathelt buckle." "Student stuck finger in clasp. Had to take student and what was left over after cutting the seatbelt to-the hospital." "Child was swinging seathelt and struck another student." "Students hitting each other, cUpping (seatbelts] across aisles tripping other students " Kids use as weapons and hit each other with the metal clips or they hook [seathelts] across aisles." "Students hit each other with the [seatbeltJ buckles." "Students hitting others with the loose portion of the seatbelt. Fingers getting stuck in the metal clip." "Students tripping on [seat] b elts. "Snap across aisles tripping >-tudents and fingers getting caught in [seatbelt clasp] mechanism "The students throw the latch mechanism at the end of the strap and sometimes hit other students "Use as weapons, students tripping on [seat] belts." "Hitting other students with the seatbelt buckles." "Children hitting other children with [seat] belts [seatbelts] buckled across aisles." "Student swung [seat] belt and hit another student in the face over the eye causing a small laceration." tiUse of seatbelt as a weapon to hit another student." "Trip hazards by connecting [seat] belts acroS> aisles Head injuries as a result of students swinging the [seat] belt." "Hitting other students with the seathelt buckles and tripping of students with the [seat] belts buckled across the aisles.'' "Buckling sea tbelts across aisles, whip [swing] them around, and steal the ends [buckles]." "Students hit with a seatbelt buckle and students tripped over seatbelts fastened across the ai
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"Children have been hit with the seatbe l t buckle causing cuts and bruises "Students buckle s eatbolts aaoss aisles causing tripping and students hit other students with the seatbelt buckles "Younger students lilce to play with the seatbelts and sometimes they cause an injury." "Seatbelts are wed as weapons or to trip other students." cracked bands, faces, and heads from buckles. "Students playing with [seat] belts, hit others with metal ends. Same for another student when angered, hit another student with the seatbelt buckle." Question 16 Do you have .uzy en' dence fanecdoral or orhenyisel indicating chAr rhcpregncc ofgafbelrs in your 20passeng.er or lacgg school buses has contributed to children using seatbelts in other vehicles? Objective. It has long been confirmed by psychologists that repetitive stimuli influence behavioral conditioning. They contend that individuals students traveling in school buses in this co.se exposed to the same stimuli for endured periods of time will develop and display more conditioned and anticipated behavior. Individual in favor of the installation of eatbelts in >ehool buses are confident that children subjected to the presence of ..atbelts in school buses will continue to di>play or "co.rryover" this learned behavior to other vehicles such as private automobiles. Uttle definitive information, however, is available that pertains to this issue to sup port this position. The i ntent of this question therefore, was to gather additional infonnation, albeit anecdotal in nature, related to this important subject in an attempt to shed some additional light on this possible relationship Results. The tabulated data revealed that only 4 1 percent of the quetionnaire respondents indicated that the presence of se<>tbelts in their large school bwes has contributed to the children in their school districts using seatbelu in other vehicles. While it is understood by the research team that these results are anecdotal in nature, it is felt that this issue warrants further in-depth study. This may be accomplished by holding personal interviews with students, parents transportation directors, or other persons in the s<;hool districts included in the sample Figure 13 illusrrates the responses to Question 16. Page34

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-. Question 17 Fi' U Question 16 9$.9K 4.1% No Did the jssue rngurdjng the lack qfseatbelts contribuw to th eir installation jn your school district? Objecti"Ve. The question ofllabillty is a concern raised by both states and school districts contemplating the installation and mandatory we of seatbelts in their Iorge school buses. The question of exactly who is liable is difficult to determine Uability bas the potential to be decided differently for each group involved in a specillc siruation, such as the school bus drivers, adult onboard monitors (if provided), schoo l boards, schoo l districts state departments of education, maintenance personnel, and insurance carriers. Liability is an enormous potential cost that is unknown. The States of New York and New Jersey have minimized the possibility ofliability by including specific language in their school bus seatbelts laws that absolves them from prosecution in the event that a child is injured. Results. The tabulated data evidenced that only 6.9 percent of the school districts that responded to the questionnaire indicated that the issue of liability regarding the lack of seatbclts was a
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Question 18 Rgon 14 to Quation 17 '"' No Has liability a:g,arding enfqrccment of use ofscacbelts been an i.ssye in your school district? Objective. The purpose of asking this question was to detennine if the matter of liability regarding the enforcement of seatbelts has been an issue in the school districts included in the sample. The four major areas of potential liability are: (I) a child is not wearing the seatbelt and is injured in an accident; (2) a child is not wearing a seatbdt properly and is injured in an accident; (3) a child is injured by tripping over a seatbelt or is StrUck with a seatbelt by another student; and(+) a child is not wearing the seatbe l t because it does not operate properly (vandalized earlier in the day), and is injured in an accident. Results. The tabulated data revealed that only IS .8 percent of the respondents indicated that they are concerned about the is:sue of liability as it relates to the enforcement of seatbe l t use. The responses to Question 1 8 are shown in Figure IS. Page36

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Question 19 llespODaa to Qoestioa 18 ...... Has the prospect qfljalnUty resulting from tbe impro4Det >YAAring ofseatbelts in the event p( an accident that mi.gb.t result in an injwy to .a passenger been an issue in your t@ool Objective. 'This question was asked to determine if the prospect of liability resulting from the improper wearing (not adjusted properly worn too low or high on the student's pelvic area, etc. ) of a seatbelt by a student in the even t his or her school bus is involved in an accident that might result in an injury to the student been an issue in the school districts included in the sample. Results. Approximately 18.9 percent of the questionnaire respondents indicated that the prospect of liability resulting from the improper wearing (not adjusted properly, worn too low or high on the student's p el vic area, etc.) of a seatbelt by a student in the event of an accident that might result in an injury to the student is an issue in their schoo l district, as exhibited in Figure 16. Pge37

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Question 20 figare 16 Reopoue to Queotioo 19 In your opinion, how satisfied is >PUC school district with the perfoanance q{rutbelts in your or larger school busesl Objective. This question w .. asked to detennine the extent or degree of satisfaction of the school districts included in the sample with the performance of seatbelts in their large school buses. Result... Questionnaire respondents indicated a high degree of dissatisfaction with the perfonnance of seatbelts in their large school buses. The tabulated data indicated that 35.4 percent of the respondents are "very dissatisfied" with the performance of seatbelts in their large school buses. Only 3.8 percent of the respondents indicated being "very satisfied." The responses to Question 20 are illustrated in Figure 17. Further analy$is of the collected data evidenced that of the respondents that indicated being "very satisfied" with the perfonnance of seatbelts, approx ima tely one-third have a mandatory seatbelt use policy in effect and, in addition, their students are more likely to use the seatbelts a higher percent of the time while riding in their school buses. The.'e r esults provide further evidence of the importance of a mandatory seatbelt use policy Pagc38

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' Figure 17 Re.po .... to Quoltlon 20 Vuy SttitGcd Satis8cd S
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Rcopo ..... t.o QaatioD 21 Question 22 Wbat grade levels are seryed by the seatbelt equiAAed 20-pa.ssenger or iAeger school buses jn ,roue school districtl Objective. This question was asked to determine what grade-levels are served by the seatbelt equipped 1arge school buses in the school districts included in the sample. The questionnai.re n:spondent.'> were: instructed to indicate all of the grade levels that applied to their particular school district. Results. The tabulated data revealed that cbildren in kindergarten through 5th grade are served by more of the seatbdt equipped large school buses, as exhibited in Table 10. One plausible explanation for this result is the fact that the school districts who responded to the questionnaire believe that it is more important to provide younger students with the opportunity to ride in seatbelt equipped school buses. Page40

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10. 22 lOth to 12th Cnde Sununary & Conclusions The infonnation contained in this exploratory study provides a useful framework for examining the operational experiences of the school districts in the U.S. that currently operate seatbelt equipped large school buses for transport of their general student population.' Through analyses of the collected data from the returned questionnaires, the study found the following: I. Overwhelmingly, the majority of the students riding In seatbe l t equipped large school buses do not wear the seatbelts while being transported. The tabulated data revealed that 77.5 percent of tbe respondents indicated that their students use the seatbelts I 0 percent or less of the time while riding in the school buses, while only 6.1 percent of the respondents indicated that their students use th. e seatbelts 5 1 percent or more of the time. 2. Overall, student conduct did not improve while riding in the schoo l buses as a result of the provision of the seatbelts and, in a few instances, the questionnaire respondents indicated that student conduct actually had become worse. The tabulated data revealed that 90.4 percent of the respondents indicated that student conduct did not improve, while 9.6 percent indicated that it did. In one instance a respondent noted that onboard conduct had improved, but only among elementary school students 3 Student vandalism of the seatbelts i widespr=d. The tabulated data from the returned questionnaires indicated that 88.4 percent of the responding school districts had experienced .rodent vandalism (i.e., damage to the seatbelt buckle, cutting of the seatbelt !itrap, etc.). This student vandalism resulted in additional maintenance costs and additional school bus downtime for the repair of the vandalized seatbelts. 4. Nearly 66 percent of the respondents that indicated experiencing an accident involving a seatbelt equipped large school bus in their respective school district indicated that there were no injuries to the Page41

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p ... engen and that the presence or use of the seatbelts wu not felt to be a factor related to the pa$$engen receiving no injuries. In addition, 5.2 percent of the responde nt> iDclicated that there were injuries to passengers in spite of using the seatbela and +.3 percent of tbe respondents indicated that there were injuries to p asaengers potentiaUy resulting &om the we of the seatbela. Moreover, 9.7 percent of the r espondent> indicated that there were no injulieJ to passe ngers and that the presence or use of seatbela was felt to be a contributing factor. S The majority of the respondents indicated that the primary instances of student seatbelt misuse was studenu using the seatbelts as weapons to strike other studen.u. In addition, the respondenu aho noted that it was very common for students to tie or buclde the seatbelts a cross the aisles, cawing other boarding or alighting (deboarding) students to trip over them. 6. QuestionS asked the respondents to conunent on the impetw that caused their school district to install seatbelt. in their larg e schoo l buses. The following iJi an exam ple of a respondent comment: "New York State law It was a bureaucr atic quick fix to 3.1\ emotional issu e that, o n paper, looked good, but in practice had no impact but to raise the cost of doing bwiness and to reduce the :unount of avaibble funds for imporunt bus safety programs that would save lives. I finnly believe that the money spent on bp-belts could be better utilized ond would save more lives if it was spent on bus driver and student safety training. 7. Approximately 9+ percent of the sdlool districts that responded t
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12. A total of 6.9 percent of the responding iicb.ob! indicated that the issue of liability regarding the lack of ..,.tbelt> in their large school buses was a contributing factor that led to their installation. In addition, nearly 16 percent of the N)Spondents indicated that they are concerned about the issue of liability related to the enforcement of seatbelt use. 13. The tabulated data evidenced that 18 9 percent of the questionnaire respondents indicated that the improper wearing (i.e., improper adjustment or placement a<:ross the pelvic region, etc.) of a seat be1t by a student in the event of an accident that might result in an injury to the student is an issue in their school district. 14. The tabulated data revealed that approximately 10.7 percent of the responding school districts do not provide instruction to their students regarding how to properly fasten and release the seatbe lts, the correct placement of the sea tbelt> on the student's pelvic region, the time when the seatbe lts should be fastened and released, and the acceptable placement of the seatbe lts when not in use. IS. Approximately 3 percent of the respondents indicated that they did retrofit their school buses with seatbelu. lbis modest result is due to the problems and inherent dangers associated with the retrofitting of seatbelts in school bus es. 16. As indicated by the tabulated data, the average cost to install seatbelts in newly purchased T ype B school buses was approximately $1,633 per bus; for newly purchased Type C school buses the cost was approximately $1 ,800 per bus ; and for newly purchased TypeD school buses the cost was approximately $1,550 per bus. 17 The tabulated data revea led that only 4.1 percent of the respondents indicated that the presence of seatbelts in their large sch .ool buses might have contributed to students using the seatbelts in other vehicles. It should be made clear to the reader howe"er, that the infonnation related to this result is purely anecdotal in nature and that no concrete evidence exists to substantiate that a relationship e xists as a result of this exploratory study. 18. The tabulated data evidenced that the avenge (mean) cost of seatbeltmaintenance due to student vandalism per year per school by type of school bus was approximately $348 per Type 8 school bus, S603 per Type C school bus, and S 596 per Type D school bus. As a direct outcome of the results from the tabulated questionnaire data and due to the lack of conclusive evidence relating to the effectiveness of seatbelts in l arge school bus<:s, the findings from this exploratory study indicate that p o Ucymakers and decisionmakers should examine the installation and the use of carefully in addition to a wide range of other strategies to improve the safety of chi ldren riding in school buses, such as extensive training of the school bus drivers, education of students r egarding proper school bus riding behavior, and protection of students in the school bus loading and unloading zones. Also, since there is a dearth of empirical data related to the effectiveness of seatb elts compared to other alternative., Page43

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factors such as capital, installation, and maintenane<: costs, the potential benefits in tenns of injuries reduced and lives saved, ease of implementation, and residual value at the end of the servie<: life span should be considered. In addition, if seatbelts are installed in large school buses and their use mandated, then questions related to education and enforcement need to be resolved. If the goal of a school district is universal usage of the seatbelts by all passenger of school buses, then the results &om this exploratory study suggest that a number of additional steps are necessary, including more education of school bus passengers with emphasis on the expectation that passengers wiU we the seatbela 100 percent of the time, monitoring of seat belt use, possibly by an onboard adult monitor or some type of sensor system, clarification of the policies and procedures regarding enfore<:ment of seatbelt use, and consistency of the enforcement of the policies and procedures pertaining to non-compliant<: of the mandatory seatbelt use policy. Lastly, the results from this study evidenced that enough large school bus accident data should exist to compare the fatality and injury rates among belted and unbelted occupants of large school buses in the school districts included in the sample Therefore, an additional recommendation is to obtain multiple years of large school bus accident data from the school districts in the study sample and analyu it to quantify the safety potential of seatbelts

PAGE 59

Questionnaire Pagel-a

PAGE 60

Page 2-a

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Questionnaite OF..,II.SIMVEY ?AimCIPA.'IT: CUT1l ocflool &lc'lfll llfp tll*pllol.aiiJICI r l -chcII!fl ll.

PAGE 62

Questionnaire continued ... <--.)
PAGE 63

. AppenJixB School Districts In cluded In the Stucly Sample P"'(c lb

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III!nnb 7 814 SkokW69 W llmdte 39 Skoldc7J.S Gkncoe )S Slol.ie 68 Nlks7J G l eavlew J4 n,, Jmuy (NJ) l u. law i n J u l y 1991. Due W the ru:wTOo:n o t' du: tb c Jtu\'lllnad<:a t tnMportatiUn d irlletclf' (ul c that lhc two schoo l dlrie:U lis ted In the .,.'CI'l: tbe: out J the 611 La tbu cwld valid Mf)Uilo1QI Page3 b

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Page 4-b

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AppenaixC Response Rates hy Question

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QU61i.on 2 QIIU\iO R 7, Quesdon 10. 12. Qut$tion 18. Table12 Questioo. How school bases by type: ue cqulppod witl! 'utbcl u or ut& by gcmunl tWderrt popul11tioa (cxduding exc cpdaml anddis.ab.Jcd. $U.)CJcnq), (:XdUdiii&Typo buses, ib your 5chool dlsaric:t? Oid )' QaO$tlon. 6, who 1$ '\tl'bk for totl)rin thlt property """r thiD' mtbdts wtdl $ on bo.$rd the IJC&oot bw1 Hu there been sNdalt o( the 1w resulted ht mainteM.IIO: /In school bwes wlthhdd from dally scrvb lin '(tiU' sct.ool dktrlalf .teubdtnrc lnoperabJc? Ooos your .tcllool dlriet provid. $Ndctl! .nth rt&af'fillJ bow to w11 .tet.1bths1 Page 3-c TypeB TJPeC TypeD 10.3% ""' 48.7% S6.4% 22 .0%

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Qumior.lZ W"'t lt:vt:lf ve Krvc-d. by tJw sntbdt Ot' l&:rg.u ldlooJ buJ.e!J in yovr d istrictl


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