DMPS Adds School Bus with Seatbelts to Fleet

School bus with seatbelts.DES MOINES, IA (October 27, 2016) – The Des Moines Public Schools transportation department is launching a bus seatbelt trial, in partnership with the Iowa Department of Education, school bus seat manufacturer SynTec and Thomas Bus Sales.

The district continues to believe school buses are one of the safest forms of transportation available. Their size, color and lights make them highly visible to other motorists. Given buses transport tens of thousands of Iowa students every day, accidents are relatively rare. However, the DMPS transportation director Todd Liston believes that when new options in safety become available and they appear to be viable, a trial is warranted.

“We have several questions,” said Liston. “Among them, will the students use the seatbelts or are they a distraction? Can the students secure themselves, or would they need assistance getting in and out of their seats, possibly causing a hazard if quick evacuation of the bus became necessary? All of these things need to be studied.”

Liston said that he plans to use the information collected to gauge the potential benefits of lap-shoulder belts for students.

In the meantime, drivers can help improve student safety in and around buses by familiarizing themselves with the rules around buses:

  • When the bus’s yellow flashers turn on, that signifies that it is preparing to have child get on or off the bus. All vehicles behind the bus must come to a complete stop.
  • If you are approaching a bus from the opposite direction, slow your speed to 20 mph when the bus turns on its yellow flashers.
  • On a two-lane road, traffic in both directions must come to a full stop when the lights are flashing red.
  • On a four-lane road, traffic moving in the opposite direction must slow down and proceed with caution when either red or yellow flashers are present.
  • Stop your vehicle at least 15 feet from the bus.
  • Remain stopped until the flashing lights are turned off and the stop arm is pulled back in.

“The greatest risk to students who ride the bus is when they are approaching or leaving it,” said Superintendent Dr. Thomas Ahart. “If more drivers follow the rules of the road, students will be safer starting today.”

The seat belt study will involve two Thomas Built Saf-T-Liner C2 school buses equipped with SynTec Seating Solutions S3C seats. One of the buses is ready to employ on Monday, Oct. 31. The other is scheduled to arrive at the DMPS bus facility in December.

School Bus Seatbelts