NTSB recommends shoulder/lap seat belts for all school buses

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) – The National Transportation Safety Board is recommending, for the first time, that all new school buses across the U.S be equipped with lap and shoulder seat belts.

Photo: WISN

“The difference that we found is that the lap shoulder belt provide an upgraded level of protection, particularly for kids that are sitting even in the seats if there's a lateral acceleration part of an accident, for example if you have a rollover or even if you have a side impact,” said Michele Beckjord with NTSB.

Beckjord has been investigating ways to keep kids safe on school buses and hopes the recommendation prompts a change in legislation.

Here in Wisconsin, according to the Department of Transportation, there are no laws requiring seat belts on school buses.

“If you don't have a requirement, for lap shoulder belts on school buses, this can help get that legislation passed so that school children in the state of Wisconsin have just as much protection as school children in state like Texas where you may have a district that just passed the law,” said Beckjord.

Local child safety advocates call this a long-time coming but also say this recommendation comes with lots of challenges.

“Buses are difficult because so many different ages of children are riding in those buses, so you can't just put in one standard seat belt, it needs to be able to adjust from that pre-school child, to that high school child,” said Kim Hess, Executive Director of the Center for Childhood Safety in Green Bay.

Hess said another challenge is money, with many school districts not having the means to pay for the seat belts.