Buckling down for safety in school buses - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Buckling down for safety in school buses

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It's currently not a law in many states for these buses to include seatbelts It's currently not a law in many states for these buses to include seatbelts
SPOKANE, Wash. -

Most school buses don't have them and now our country's top highway safety officer wants that to change.  We're talking about adding car-like seatbelts to school buses.

The new appeal for action on board our buses comes with some unfortunate new numbers.  Roughly 25 million kids ride a school bus every day.  The American Academy of Pediatrics reports 7,200 children are hurt each year in crashes, and four kids die because of them. 

Only six states require seatbelts on large school buses, Washington and Idaho are not among them.  Only Texas and California require three point seatbelts. 

It's currently not a law in many states for these buses to include seatbelts and previously the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has said it would be very costly to make that happen.   NHTSA has said that local officials are in the best position to decide whether or not to make that change. 

"Our buses are extremely safe," says Kirk Tostenrude, Transportation Supervisor for Spokane schools.  "They're designed like tanks to keep the children safe."    

With breakaway sides, reinforced front and back ends, and seats set up as compartments, Tostenrude says buses are the safest way for kids to get to school.   

Now the NHTSA is trying to take that safety to the next level by encouraging local jurisdictions to retrofit school buses with seatbelts.

"There's more research at a national level that's going on," says Tostenrude, who adds that like most things, seatbelts on buses have their ups and downs. 

"In a severe accident if there were injuries, if the driver was incapacitated, then all the students would have to be cut out of the seatbelts," says Tostenrude. 

He believes the safety of children who rides buses is impacted largely by how cautious other drivers are.  "We need everyone to be safe and recognize that the yellow school bus is caution and our babies are on there."

Right now Spokane school district is waiting for more research before they make a decision on seatbelts in buses.  Cheney and Central Valley have said they are looking at funding and will be discussing the issue in the future. 

None of the school districts that we spoke to in the area are making immediate changes.

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