After School Bus Tragedy, Emphasis Placed on Seat Belt Safety
As parents in Tennessee mourn the death of six children after a bus crashed into a tree, debates over bus safety across the country have ensued.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, drivers aged 18 to 34 are less likely than drivers over 35 to wear their seat belts. In addition, men are 10% less likely than women to wear seat belts. In school buses, however, even fewer children are protected by seat belts.
News Channel 5 reports that the Metro Council’s Education Committee has delayed a vote in Tennessee that has requested the Metro School Board to install seat belts on all new school buses. The resolution, sponsored by Karen Y. Johnson, requested that the school board “require that all buses nearing mandatory replacement age, or otherwise requiring replacement, be replaced with buses equipped with seat belts.”
It’s estimated that installing seat belts would cost an extra $12,000 for each bus.
“I don’t think any price is too much for the safety of our children,” said Anna Shepherd, the Metro School Board Chair.
CNN reports that the National Safety Council and American Academy of Pediatrics have long recommended that seat belts be installed on new school buses. Only New York, New Jersey, Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and California have laws requiring passenger seat belts on their buses.
“That’s the best protection that we can give our kids. It’s what they’re used to in cars,” said Deborah Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “We know that there are very few fatalities involving children on school buses every year — they are a safe form of transportation — but anything that we can do to make them safer is really our responsibility.”
School officials stated that every school bus costs Metro between $40,000 and $50,000 a year to operate and members of the Education Committee would prefer the school board to come up with its own plan for safety.