A national school bus safety expert tells a Governor’s task force looking into school bus safety in this state that students are the safest when riding a bus, but says the panel’s mission is still valid. Charles Gauthier with the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services tells the nine-member School Bus Safety Task Force that on average, nationwide, five children are killed while riding on school buses, but about 800 die while getting to and from school by other means. Gauthier says that doesn’t mean the panel’s probe to make school buses safer is any less valid. The Chairman of the panel, Department of Public Safety Director Mark James, agrees. He says this information only gives the task force other things to consider when looking at overall student safety. Gauthier also told the group that while shoulder/lap belts could be valuable in buses, just plain lap belts would actually increase the chances of injury and death.