Skip to Content
Central Oregon
Remaining Ad Time Ad - 00:00

NTSB wants states to require seat belts in school buses

Some C.O. parents support the move, but there would be added costs

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The National Transportation Safety Board is pushing for all states to require that new school buses have three-point seat belts.

School buses in Oregon state are currently not required to have seat belts.

So far, only eight states require school buses to have seat belts: Arkansas, California, Florida, Louisiana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York and Texas.

If required, the NTSB says this would better protect students in rollover accidents and car crashes.

Stephanie Shaw, safety advocate for NTSB told NewsChannel 21 Thursday the conversation is changing because we do see now in side impact crashes and rollover crashes.

"The compartmentalization technology alone does not provide students with enough actual protection," Shaw said. "So when they are jostled and moved around, they are tossed out of their seating compartment, and then adding that seat belt would just keep them in that space and they'd be best protected."

School buses are built to be able to better withstand impacts unlike cars, but seat belts would add an extra measure of safety. Bend- La Pine Schools buses currently only have seat belts in those used for special education students.

The transportation coordinator said the district uses a replacement plan, which means after a period of time, older emission buses are rolled out and new ones are brought in.

Each bus is manufactured to a school district's specific need. Buses most likely would not be retrofitted because the seat spacing changes when buses have seat belts.

Bend-La Pine Schools has about 140 buses, with each bus costing nearly $140,000. If seat belts are added to buses, it would increase the cost of the bus, officials said.

Parents shared with NewsChannel 21 their opinions on this issue.

"I wouldn't put my kids in the car not in a seat belt or a booster seat, or car seat, so i really think buses should have seat belts," Jessie Armstrong said.

"I'm all for making life a little safer, especially for my little grandkids here," Clay Forney said. "I do realize there is an expense to that. I kind of heard of the history behind it, or the arguments that it's more expensive and kids are safe without the seat belts, but anything to make it a little safer is all good."

Vehicle changes of this magnitude would need to be passed as a federal regulation, but the NTSB is reaching out to states to encourage them to require it at the state level.

One teacher shared that if adding seat belts to school buses means more safety, she's all for it.

"There's been a lot of crashes of school buses where they roll, and a seat belt would help a kid stay in the seat, pre-school teacher Kellee Blanchard said. "So safety is always a good idea, and the safer we can keep students the better."

Accidents and Crashes / Automotive / Bend / Deschutes County / Government-politics / News / Oregon-Northwest / Top Stories
Author Profile Photo

Arielle Brumfield

Arielle Brumfield is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Arielle here.



  1. It has always seemed really stupid that seat belts weren’t required on school buses.
    The Gov’t makes such a big deal about everyone using seat belts, and the police write
    tickets for those not wearing one, but it’s okay to put a bunch of kids on a school bus
    without them. It doesn’t matter how big the vehicle is, kids will still come out of their
    seats if the impact is hard enough. I know if we put kids in a car and don’t buckle them up or put them in a booster seat, they will definitely give you a ticket for it. Talk about Government hypocrisy…

  2. I like the idea but don’t know how they will implement this. Elementary school children are much smaller than middle school and high school kids. Children under 4’11” require a car seat or a booster seat. Adult size seat belts are not suitable for small children in a car. Therefore they will not be suitable on a bus either. Will they require each grade group to have their own specific bus lines with their own seat belt sizes? Going to need more funding I am sure. The Brown in Salem and her minions will love this. They love raising taxes.

  3. I see this as another opportunity for those so inclined in our sue happy society to be able to cost the school districts, bus companies, and the driver. It is hard and risky enough to be a bus driver now that they can’t hardly keep enough of them on payroll – then you add the responsibility of keeping a seat belt on a child who may or may not behave????

    1. Things have certainly changed. I know a couple people that drove school bus for years
      and retired.Both did it for over 20 years. Some people used to do it to supplement their income, and have something to do part time after retiring. Now it seems they have a lot of trouble hiring and or keeping new drivers. I know I couldn’t do it because I don’t have any tolerance for rude kids that refuse to mind, or their parents that did a lousy job of raising them.

      1. I raised 9 kids but you and I are on the same page with your last sentence.

        But in all honesty I suspect that part of the driver shortage is the same shortage of CDL drivers all over the country.

        Trivia – years ago in another city a parent said “I sure feel sorry for the teachers when my kids get there” – got a really big-eyed shocked looking expression when I told him I was glad my kids would never be in the same classes because I want the teacher to be able to teach, not just babysit his kids.

        1. I can’t imagine raising 9 kids. We only had three. The oldest was our daughter and she
          was an absolute nightmare, but she had some issues. Luckily the two boys were really
          good and they both grew up to be respectful, polite young men.I think you are probably right about the CDL being a big part of the bus driver shortage. People claim that there aren’t any jobs that pay decent but if they got a CDL, have a good driving record and can pass a pee test, they could get a driving job in a few days.
          I can’t imagine making a comment like that person made. I guess it makes some people
          proud if their kids are rude J.D’s that like to cause trouble…
          I got in a little trouble growing up but nothing bad, I was raised better. I didn’t try and stay out of trouble because I was afraid of getting a butt whipping, which I did get a few times and I deserved them, I was more afraid of disappointing my parents and grandparents.

Leave a Reply