Seat Belt Use on Alabama School Buses: Preliminary Results of Pilot Study

The Alabama State Department of Education commissioned a study of school bus seat belt use on the basis of 12 buses (less than 1% of the fleet) equipped with seat belts and digital camera systems. The initial year of the study established baseline rates for normal situations. About 64,000 pupil observations were gathered from 11 buses on Tuesday through Thursday afternoon routes and from one control bus on Monday through Friday morning and afternoon routes. Afternoon route seat belt use was estimated to be 65.9% on the basis of 44,000 of the observations made. Given the small sample size, this value should be considered representative of the fleet but not exact. Belt use varied widely from bus to bus (94.5% to 4.8%). The degree of scatter was confirmed by large values of the coefficient of variation. Trends were documented for variation by day of week, morning versus afternoon, time on route, effects of bus aides, and changes in use over the school year. The findings confirmed the opinions of national experts and Alabama pupil transportation managers. High seat backs blocked the view of drivers as they tried to control pupil conduct and enforce seat belt use. The researchers of the University Transportation Center for Alabama examined digital images of pupils on the buses, but they could determine whether a seat belt was used only 65% of the time. While driving, bus drivers are able to see far fewer pupils: it is unrealistic to expect the drivers to enforce seat belt use.


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  • Accession Number: 01151201
  • Record Type: Publication
  • ISBN: 9780309160537
  • Report/Paper Numbers: 10-3956
  • Files: TRIS, TRB, ATRI
  • Created Date: Jan 25 2010 12:01PM