Picknelly: ‘We support requirements to include seatbelts on new buses’

Peter Picknelly, president and CEO of Peter Pan Bus Lines, says pending legislative safety proposals will affect the bus industry, mainly around the subject of seat belts.

“We support requirements to include seatbelts on new buses,” Picknelly said in a BUSRide email interview this week. “We’re concerned with some proposals to retrofit seatbelts on existing buses that were designed and purchased without them. As you know, it’s not a matter of simply adding belts – the seat frames, seat anchoring, and bus frames have to be redesigned for seatbelts. A phased approach with new coach purchases, similar to what happened with ADA and lifts, makes much more sense. We would hope there is close consultation with legislators, the bus industry, manufacturers, safety experts and engineers, and consumers to come to a logical approach to safety improvements.”

Two years ago Peter Pan began installing seat belts, not waiting on a possible government mandate.

“We believed that it was just a matter of time before seat belts would be mandated and wanted to ‘get ahead of the curve,’” Picknelly said. “Some of our charter clients, particularly universities and colleges, were requesting this safety option. Although it’s expensive, it’s the right thing to do.”

Just because seat belts have been installed doesn’t mean passengers are using them.

“We recently did a survey of 40 college students regarding the use of seatbelts,” he said. “They were asked if seatbelts were available would you use them? Not one of the 40 students said they would use the seatbelts. Why? It could be a matter of habit, since there have never been belts on buses. It could be a perception that, because of the size and weight of a bus, they’re not needed. It took people a while to get into the habit of using belts in automobiles, and I’m hoping the use will rise with time.”