A fatal Ohio crash has some asking why most school buses still don’t have seat belts

After a deadly school bus crash in Ohio, questions are rising about why most school buses in the country still lack seat belts.

The problem: An elementary school student died and nearly two dozen others were injured in a crash last week near Springfield, Ohio. Like many school buses in the US, the vehicle had no passenger seat belts, though the driver was wearing one.
* Rudy Breglia, who founded the School Bus Seat Belt Safety Alliance, has been advocating for seat belts in all school buses for seven years.

Safety measures: The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) now calls for three-point, lap-and-shoulder restraints in all newly purchased large school buses.
* Most large school buses rely on “compartmentalization” — thickly padded seatbacks and close spacing between seats designed to create a protective envelope to avoid injuries.
* However, in off-angle, side-impact, or rollover crashes, this measure is seen as incomplete.

State regulations: Only a few states, including California and New Jersey, require seat belts on school buses, while most do not.
* Retrofitting older buses with seat belts is seen as expensive, but Breglia argues it costs just $5 per year per student in terms of buying new buses with restraints.

Impacts: Studies suggest that seat belts could improve student behavior on buses and help with driver retention.
* Despite under 1% of traffic fatalities involving school buses, the NTSB worries that serious crashes could make parents choose to drive their kids to school, which is statistically less safe.

View original article on NPR

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