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Grant Awarded for Pilot Program on School Bus Seat Belts

MONTGOMERY – Some Alabama children who take the bus to school will be buckled-up during the trip for the first time next year thanks to a grant awarded by a special panel Governor Bob Riley appointed.

Governor Riley convened the Governor’s Study Group on School Bus Seat Belts last fall to examine whether seat belts should be required on school buses in Alabama. The move came in the wake of a tragic school bus crash in Huntsville that cost the lives of four students.

The Study Group awarded a grant of nearly $316,000 to The University of Alabama’s University Transportation Center for Alabama. The three-year grant will fund a pilot program to implement and research the Study Group’s recommendations, which include purchasing 12 new buses equipped with seat belts and teaching students how to properly wear and adjust the seat belts. The pilot program will also examine different strategies for enforcing and monitoring seat belt usage.

The Study Group awarded the grant after soliciting proposals from all Alabama colleges and universities.

School systems selected to participate in the pilot program will ensure that parents are informed about the new seat belts and will require parental permission for children to participate in the seat belt usage study.

The research study will include the following:

– Bus Fleet Alterations
– Determination of School Bus Seating Configuration
– Monitoring of Seat Belt Usage
– Survey of Students, Parents and Local School Personnel
– Cost-Benefit Analysis

The members of the Governor’s Study Group are:

– Dr. Mary Jane Caylor, Member, State Board of Education
– Commissioner Richard Dorrough, Commissioner, Department of Children’s Affairs
– Joe Lightsey, Director, Student Transportation, Department of Education
– Joe McInnes, Director, Department of Transportation
– Dr. Ann Roy Moore, Superintendent, Huntsville City Schools
– Dr. Joseph B. Morton, State Superintendent of Education
– Colonel Chris Murphy, Director, Department of Public Safety