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School Bus Safety

School Bus Safety

2/27/2014

children walking from busMillions of children rely on school buses to transport them to and from school and school related activities.

This form of transportation is very safe. On average, only six passengers die each year in school bus crashes. In comparison, each year approximately 2,000 children are killed in motor vehicle crashes.

The federal government has established 35 safety standards to help ensure safe school bus transportation and states are free to pass even stricter regulations. One area still up for debate is that of occupant protection on school buses. Although safety belts provide excellent protection in passenger vehicles, the effectiveness of safety belts on school buses is unknown because the effectiveness depends upon the type of restraint, how it is used and the type of crash.

In 2008, NHTSA announced a rule change to FMVSS 222, which now requires new school buses of 10,000 pounds or less to have lap-shoulder belts in lieu of the lap belts currently required. The rule also requires increasing the height of seat backs from 20 inches to 24 inches and allows states or local jurisdictions to decide whether to install seat belts on larger school buses (over 10,000 pounds). California, Florida, New Jersey, New York, Louisiana, and Texas have passed some variation of a seat belt law for school buses but funding has not been appropriated in some states. In 2009, 8 states introduced bills that would require school buses to have seat belts installed, none of the bills passed.

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