A tragic bus accident in Chattanooga, Tennessee, has sparked a national discussion on whether seatbelts should be mandatory on school buses. Three weeks ago, six children died and more than 20 suffered injuries when a school bus rolled over and slammed into a tree. Witnesses to the school bus accident claim the driver was speeding right before the collision occurred.
Only six states in the country require school buses to use seatbelts. Colorado is not one of those states. Some districts use their own funding to install seatbelts, but it is not a requirement under state law.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has grappled with the idea of creating a federal rule that would require school buses to use three-point seatbelts. These seatbelts have a shoulder harness instead of just going across the lap.
Requiring three-point seatbelts on school buses has presented significant challenges for both NHTSA and many states. Estimates from the National Association of Pupil Transportation claim it could cost $7,000 to $11,000 to install one school bus with three-point seatbelts.
Can Three-Point Seat Belts Help Passengers During a School Bus Accident?
School buses are designed to reduce impact force during a front-end collision to protect passengers. Rollover accidents, like the one in Tennessee, are another story. When a school bus experiences a rollover accident, passengers have zero protection.
Three-point seatbelts keep school bus passengers tethered in during rollover accidents, and can more evenly distribute the impact force from collisions.