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Schneider said he tried to achieve a more comfortable and functional bus incorporating an environmentally sensitive hybrid engine and some unique safety features like a video surveillance system.

Other ideas include making buses more environmentally friendly through the use of alternative or hybrid fuel sources, improving vehicle visibility with color, graphics and lights, and increased interior padding to reduce injuries, Mann said. "Her driver pulled the emergency brake in order to get out and help another driver.

George J. "We did address that issue. I lived in a rural area and had to travel for about an hour down a dirt road to get to one stop. They have a very good safety record, but things do still happen. Both the NTSB and NAS have endorsed the policy.

Some of the researchers had their own personal adventures.

"I'd forgotten how uncomfortable they were," said the Carlos junior.

"One of my students was in an freak accident," said Mann.

"The driver has a heads-up video screen in front of him so he can take a look before he starts out to make sure everything is clear," he said."

Studies by the National Transportation Safety Board and the National Academy of Sciences have concluded that a federal requirement for safety belts on large buses would provide little, if any, added protection in a crash.

Mann said they plan to compile reports and other data on the research and designs for presentation to school bus manufacturers such as Blue Bird Corp.

Student opinion was divided on the need for safety belts, which has been a controversial subject in the past.

Some of the new ideas for the future of the school bus may come from the Texas A&M University architecture and mechanical engineering students who presented their designs to the public Wednesday."

The students also learned about the strengths and weaknesses of traditional school buses from drivers and public transportation officials responsible for the daily operation of local bus fleets. While he was out another kid got on the bus and hit the brake with a book bag by accident.

Their goal is to develop a safer, sustainable and user-friendly alternative to the gas-guzzling vehicles that have become a fixture of U. It released and it rolled down the hill into a tree.

For one of the most dangerous situations for a school bus, when its stopped, Schneider mounted two large electronic signs at the rear to flash a warning, "Caution: School Bus Stopped."

After several weeks of study, 28 architecture students came up with designs that address safety issues as well as comfort and function."

That started a discussion about why there shouldn't be a second adult on the bus, one to drive and another to work with the students on their studies. The result was new seating designs with study areas, along with video screens for educational programs.

"For some time I've looked at school buses and said these are sardine cans on wheels," he said.S., Thomas Built Buses, Inc. school Swing Clamp transportation. and International Truck and Engine Corp. In the next phase of the study, engineering students will refine the concepts and work on ideas for a safer passenger environment. "But when we did research we found kids are better off in a school bus than going with their parents in the car, statistically.6 million students ride every year in the United States. A lot of my students did put in the option of seat belts.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration advocates a "compartmentalization" concept using strong, closely spaced seats that have energy-absorbing seat backs.

For hands-on experience, the Texas A&M students rode on buses operated by the local Bryan Independent School District, as well as the shuttles operated on the Aggie campus by Texas A&M Transportation Services. 17 (UPI) -- The school bus of tomorrow may not look anything like the big yellow box-like vehicles that an estimated 23.)

. Several kids were hurt, but none seriously.


For students like Charles Schneider, the bus ride revived old memories. Mann, a Texas A&M professor of architecture, organized the project after he saw a video of school children tumbling around inside a school bus during a rollover. "I rode on school buses all the way to about the ninth grade."


(Reported by Phil Magers in Dallas.

"There is a lot of discussion on safety belts, because some of the kids are small and it could be damaging if they got on the wrong side of a seat belt or restraint," Mann said

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