(Mirror Daily, United States) – For the sake of children, a national agency is pushing for 3-point seatbelts on school buses in order to provide with safer transportation. If their efforts succeed, many more trademark yellow buses will be seeing additional safety feature. Whether that would be good or bad, it remains to be seen.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) began with the notion that every child “on every school bus” requires the safety that a 3-point seatbelt can provide. At the moment, only six states in the United States provide that sort of protection, specifically New York, New Jersey, Louisiana, Florida, Texas, and California.
For example, the Austin Independent School District (AISD) currently has 520 buses, with only 180 of them equipped with the 3-point seatbelt. The rest of them have simple, lap belts, which provide with limited safety. However, according to AISD director, Kris Hafezizadeh, it could taken between 10 to 12 years to replace them all.
Most school buses in Texas are under 10 years old. Around 14,000 of them are older than a decade, and 120 were built before 1977. There were over one hundred fatal school bus accidents between 2004 and 2013, which underlined the need for better requirements.
The agency’s efforts is meant to boost that effort, but not enforce it. According to Mark Rosekind, from the NHTSA, they will be launching a project to emphasize the benefits of such seatbelts. This will include research, funding, and possibly a nationwide mandate. That means they will be working with several safety advocates in order to gain the funds necessary.
However, reportedly, they are not imposing a new “rule” nor will they push for one to form in the future. They are simply moving forward with plans of bringing newer, safer buses for students around the country. However, while NHTSA’s Rosekind states that this is an “utterly uncontroversial” issue, not all are in agreement.
In fact, some state that if you have a bus full of children that are “all buckled up”, it would endanger their lives in case of fires or other emergencies. It would provide with safety during traffic accidents, but it could also present itself as a hindrance. One hundred children cramped and belted up in a bus could lead to chaos.
It was estimated that it would cost taxpayers around $11 million per year, or between $7,000 and $11,000 per bus to have the seatbelts installed.
Image source: thomasbus.com