The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is shifting its stance on seat belts, saying school buses would be safer if their passengers had to buckle up.
Why the NHTSA is now pushing for seat belts
NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind told the National Association for Pupil Transportation, ‘Seat belts save lives, and that includes seat belts on school buses.’
The administration previously argued the cushioned seat backs protected passengers well enough to forgo the belt.
But the ‘protective envelope’ of close seats and cushioned backs clearly isn’t effective in every accident.
This change in stance doesn’t mean schools will have to adjust their buses accordingly — yet. Right now, only six states require seat belts.
Rosekind was clear that he was not announcing a new rule — rather, the administration will launch projects to try to improve data on seat belt safety. He said, ‘Our goal is a three-point belt for every child on every bus.’
Requiring every school bus to have seat belts isn’t cheap. NHTSA estimates installation would cost between $7,300 and $10,300 per bus.
There are almost a half a million school buses in the U.S. They transport approximately 26 million students a day, according to the American School Bus Council.