A few months ago this page urged Utah to tighten its safety standards for school buses.

We did so after a Deseret News investigation showed that school bus safety has too long been pushed aside and ignored, particularly when it comes to those buses that were built before federal safety regulations went into effect in 1977.Let's hope that new life is breathed into these suggestions by this week's report from the National Transportation Safety Board recommending that all school buses made before 1977 be taken off the road across the country.

The NTSB acted in response to the bus-truck crash last year in Kentucky that killed 27 people in the worst traffic accident ever attributed to a drunken driver.

If adopted nationwide, the NTSB proposal would phase out 77,000 school buses, about 22 percent of those now in use, plus thousands of former school buses used by church groups and other organizations.

In Utah, the impact would be even more sweeping. As this page noted last December, each time one of Utah's children boards a school bus there is almost a one-in-three chance that the bus he or she rides was built before 1977.

The importance of school bus safety is indicated by the fact that nationally such vehicles carry 22 million children more than 3.3 billion miles each year.

The new report from the NTSB goes on to make suggestions about cracking down on drunken driving. Though Utah already has one of the toughest drunken driving laws in the nation, it still would pay to take a close look at some of those suggestions.

For example, how about using roadblocks more often to check for drunken drivers? And how about encouraging motorists to report suspected drunken drivers?

Though school buses are the safest form of transportation by motor vehicle, there's clearly room for improvement. In view of the high priority this state gives to education and young people, Utah should stop waiting for others to show the way and start taking the lead in making school buses safer.