Will Georgia Schools Follow NTSB Recommendation and Install Seat Belts on Buses?
GEORGIA – October 30, 2018 (wtoc.com) In May, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended that all school buses in the country have seat belts. The recommendation came after a string of fatal bus accidents around the nation. NTSB’s guidance is not mandatory for any schools to follow, so what will Georgia do? The story is reported online at wtoc.com.*
So far, Georgia schools have not done a lot in response to the NTSB report. Reporters checked with school districts throughout the state and only found one with buses that had seat belts. Even in that district, only a few seats on each bus had lap belts, not the full sets of lap/shoulder belts NTSB recommended.
Under current federal law, school buses weighing less than 10,000 pounds are required to have seat belts. Larger school buses are not required to have them by federal law, but some states have passed legislation requiring seat belts on all buses. Seven states in the U.S. to date have passed such legislation: Arkansas, California, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, and Texas.
Proponents of mandatory seat belts in Georgia say they would protect children in the event of flip- and roll-over crashes. Opponents of such a mandate, however, say that these types of accidents are extremely rare, and full-scale seat belt installation is cost prohibitive.
Large buses tend move at slower speeds, follow predictable routes, and are extremely visible, which industry experts say make them far safer than average vehicles. They also make use of “compartmentalization” to keep children safe, which refers to close seating with energy-absorbing seat backs. Compartmentalization keeps children plenty safe, people say, while seat belt mandates cause unnecessary and astronomical costs.
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