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."