I’ve been urging seat belt installation on school buses for years. Finally (certainly not because of anything I did) Dallas County will begin using seat belts in some of their school buses. Here are excerpts from a Dallas Morning News article:
Dallas County Schools, which provides buses for Dallas ISD and eight other school districts, will have dozens more large buses with lap-shoulder belts. And district officials said they hope belts will be in more buses in the future.
“Common sense says we need to protect our kids every way possible, and that includes seat belts,” said Larry Duncan, Dallas County Schools board president. “I would like to see them all with seat belts overnight, but we can’t get that done.”
Dallas County Schools already has installed shoulder-lap seat belts on two buses that serve DISD elementary schools in North Dallas. This month, the district expects to receive 70 new large buses equipped with lap-shoulder belts similar to those in passenger cars, officials said.
Despite the district’s decision to have the seat belts, the debate remains about the benefits of seat belts on buses.
A 2002 report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about shoulder-lap seat belts in school buses concluded that “lap belts appear to have little, if any, benefit in reducing serious-to-fatal injuries in severe frontal crashes.”
The design of school buses, with their big, plush seats and lengthy body, makes them safe, transportation safety experts say.
The district’s decision to retrofit buses and purchase ones with seat belts comes more than a year ahead of the effective date for a Texas law that will require school buses purchased after September 2010 to have seat belts. State legislators passed the law after two Beaumont students died when their school bus overturned in 2006.
But the law is contingent on the state providing money to districts to install the seat belts, so the law may never take effect, Duncan said.