This past week, a federal panel passed along its latest recommendations to the National Transportation Safety Board. The panel recommended that all large buses being manufactured from now on should include shoulder and lap safety belts, collision-avoidance systems, and automatic emergency brakes.
The recommendations were handed in just days after a school bus crash in New Jersey killed a student and a teacher and another crash near Pasadena, TX hospitalized two students. The NTSB approved the recommendation regarding the lap and shoulder seatbelts.
8 States Already Require School Bus Safety Belts
For most of the nation, large school buses are still the same safety-wise as they were when we (or even our parents) took them to school. Only 8 states require seatbelts on large school buses—however, 29 of them have introduced legislation on the problem. The reason it has stalled in most places? The estimated cost of requiring manufacturers to add seatbelts.
Given that most states are balking at the prospect of paying for decades-old technology like the seatbelt, convincing manufacturers and state legislatures to jump on board with collision-avoidance technology and automatic emergency brakes is a long shot. That said, we're thrilled that there are people speaking up for the use of them, even if state legislatures take a while to warm up to the price.
Regardless of the cost, lawmakers need to realize that 25 million children's lives are in the hands of school buses every day—there is no price too high to ensure those buses are well-equipped and safe to ride.