Missouri School Buses Could Get Seat Belts
A task force recommended seat belts last fall, but there are some issues to tackle.
Adding seat belts can reduce the number of children who can fit on a bus. On a bus without belts, students sit three to a seat. With belts, only two students can sit on a seat. For example, a bus that seats 75 students at three to a seat will fit only 50 students at two to a seat.
Strapping Students In
"The smaller ones tend to get up and run around," said Connie Nichols, a Hallsville bus driver. She also said there's no way to make kids buckle up.
Nichols fears what could happen in an emergency.
"Maybe not being able to get all the students out if something was to happen," she explained. "Say, if one of them is locked in and you can't get them out, that's my concern."
Each bus will cost about $5,000 more to include seat belts.
Hallsville Superintendent Tom Baugh said fewer students on each bus means other costs will increase.
"It'll take a third more buses and a third more drivers," he added, "which is a huge additional cost."
Lawmakers say a $15 surcharge on traffic tickets will help pay for the plan.
The sponsors of the bill maintain buses must have belts to be safer. Superintendent Baugh disagrees.
"We don't feel it's warranted at this point," he argued. "There's no statistic to prove this will improve the safety of our kids."