Earlier this year Buffalo Public Schools saw 20 percent of its fleet of 630 school buses equipped with three-point, lap/shoulder belts, and now the district has a policy in place that requires all student riders wear the restraint systems and be trained on proper usage at least three times a year.
The 125 school buses operated by First Student began rolling with the new three-point lap/shoulder belt systems installed at the beginning of this school year. The phase-in is expected to be completed fleet-wide by July 2014. Bus drivers and bus aides are required to enforce the requirement that all student riders wear their lap/shoulder belts.
Al Diamico, the director of transportation at Buffalo, said he has only received positive feedback from schools, parents, and drivers about the lap/shoulder seat belts.
While, the new policy approved last month by the school board adds that the district mandates the use of the new three-point seat belts, parents must decide if they want their children to use two-point lap belts installed in the remaining legacy buses. Parents who “direct that their child wear a [two-point]seat belt,” according to the policy, must then notify the bus driver. The policy also states that the district cannot guarantee to parents that their children will remain buckled in those buses with the two-point belts during the entire trip to and from school.
The transportation policy already required that a minimum of three school bus emergency drills be conducted each school year, one during the first week of school, a second between Nov. 1 and the end of the calendar year and a third between March 1 and April. 30. The drills include evacuations, loading and unloading, crossing the street at least 10 feet in front of the bus, inclement weather, and student discipline.
In all, Buffalo transports nearly 27,000 students each day, one way, more than half of the total student enrollment of more than 43,000. First Student operates a total of 630 school buses for the district.
[Editor’s note: A previous version of this article contained several errors based on a misreading of the new policy. STN regrets any and all confusion that was caused.]