Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What states require seat belts
on school buses?
California is the only state requiring lap-shoulder
belts on new buses. New York, New Jersey and Florida
require lap belts on new buses. Starting in 2010, all
new buses purchased by Texas school districts will require
lap-shoulder belts. Each year, 20 to 30 states have
bills calling for seat belts to be mandatory on new
school buses. Most proposed bills are driven by grassroots
activity that compels a local representative to author
a bill. Some states are waiting for NHTSA to revise
current FMVSS 222 to include a performance standard
for lap-shoulder belts.
Q. What options do I have for lap-shoulder
belts on my school bus?
Current companies that sell buses equipped with lap-shoulder
belts offer the option of two lap-shoulder belts on
a 39-inch or 30-inch seat or three lap-shoulder belts
on a 45-inch seat. Before the introduction of the 39-inch
FlexSeat, seating capacity has been reduced and has
never been flexible on either type of seat.
Q. Will children wear lap-shoulder belts on
Children come out of the hospital buckled into a car
seat. They’re conditioned from birth to be belted
while in a moving vehicle. Pilot studies and field studies
have shown that with proper and enforced policies in
place, administered by the school district, compliance
rates can be very high. NHTSA conducted a study of usage,
which concludes that states with primary usage laws
have higher seat belt usage than those with secondary
or no usage laws. As with any other bus behavior policies,
seat belt usage policies must be actively reinforced
for the safety of the children.
Q. Will lap-shoulder belts improve children's
behavior on school buses?
Bus drivers who have used SafeGuard seats observe that
behavioral issues and noise levels drop. Children were
less inclined to move around in their seats, stand while
the bus is moving or talk to those several rows ahead
Q. I’m concerned that children will destroy
seat belts, increasing maintenance costs.
Results with tens of thousands of lap-shoulder belted
seats in the field for more than five years have shown
the opposite to be true. Sales of SafeGuard replacement
covers and restraint components have been minimal. Response
from users indicates that student behavior is significantly
improved and that the calmer environment is not conducive
to students acting destructively. The SafeGuard FlexSeat
has been designed to be serviceable in the field. Seat
belts on SafeGuard bus seats can be accessed quickly
by removing the inner SmartFrame®. They can be easily
replaced in about 15 minutes. For more information,
contact customer service at 877-447-2305.
Q. Can lap-shoulder belts be used as weapons?
In the past, some lap belts were designed with a massive
steel buckle threaded on a long web, making it possible
to swing. Modern lap-shoulder belts use retractable
systems for the lightweight tongue. The buckle is attached
to the seat with a short piece of webbing, making it
nearly impossible to swing.
Q. Will lap-shoulder belts reduce my ability
to fit children of a range of sizes?
Adjustable lap-shoulder belts properly fit occupants
of a wide range of sizes, from a four year-old, 40-pound
child, through a large adult. When using the three-seat
configuration, the maximum weight for the center child
is 70 lbs.
Q. Can I fit the same number of seats in my
The seatback thickness of the FlexSeat is virtually
the same as current FMVSS 222 school bus seats, so the
number of rows available for seating is typically not
Q. I can get three high school sized kids in
my current FMVSS 222 seat. Won’t I lose capacity
with lap-shoulder belts?
If you are transporting three high school-sized kids
in your current seats, the occupant in the aisle seat
is likely to be seated outside of the seating compartment.
According to NHTSA, “Persons not sitting or sitting
partially outside of the school bus seats will not be
afforded the occupant protection provided by the school
Q. How will students get out of lap-shoulder
belts if there is an accident?
Evacuation training is essential for all students riding
a school bus, whether the bus is equipped or not equipped
with restraints. Training prepares children to respond
calmly in the event of an accident.
Students are less likely to be injured in a bus accident
when they are wearing restraints. A properly restrained
child who has not been injured can release himself and
evacuate more quickly than one who requires a stretcher
for evacuation. Buckles are designed and tested to unlatch
with the push of a button, even in a bus rollover. Fully
loaded, federal motor vehicle safety standards require
that the force required to push the button on a buckle
must be less than 14 lbs.
In an emergency, the most significant limitation to
evacuation of a bus is the design of emergency exits.
A large number of evacuees must move through a single
exit door, one at a time, to one person on the outside.
In an accident, this process creates a greater timing
challenge than the few additional seconds required to
More information on FlexSeat