Do buses have seat belts?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued an abrupt change to a long standing school bus safety position late last year.
After decades of recommending compartmentalization, in November 2015, the NHTSA changed the organization's long held position on school bus seat belts. "The position of the NHTSA is that seat belts save lives. That is true whether in a passenger car or in a big yellow bus," said Mark Rosekind, NHTSA administrator in an announcement. "Saving lives is what we are about, so NHTSA’s policy is that every child on every school bus should have a three-point seat belt."
Prior to that sudden and unexpected policy change announcement, NHSTA’s recommended compartmentalization, a passive form of restraint that relies on closely spaced, high-back padded seats. Compartmentalization has been used on school buses across the country since 1977. Compartmentalization is combined with a large, heavy, high deck vehicle driven by a professional operator. This combination makes it the safest form of ground transportation; nearly eight times safer than students riding in personal vehicles. (NHTSA paper 05-325).
District 49 Board of Education made the determination that all future buses purchased by the district will be equipped with seat belts meeting the NHTSA recommendation. Already, five replacement buses purchased in 2016 year are equipped with the new restraint system.