As the 2016 Chattanooga school bus crash still weighs heavily on the minds of American parents, many have asked whether school buses themselves should take stronger safety measures to protect their passengers. New York, along with other states, enforces special laws on its school buses. Nevertheless, many parents are concerned for the safety of their children.
Despite having preexisting seat belt laws, many states still grapple with actively enforcing use on buses. PBS News Hour takes a look at this topic in an article from last May, pointing out that some states do not consider such safety modifications worth the cost. Of the 25 million children who ride school buses each school day, bus crashes take the lives of six children a year. According to PBS, experts from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration argue that three-point seatbelts should be in effect on all buses. Yet without a federal law regulating this safety measure, it could be difficult to get all schools on board. Other school and safety officials claim larger buses can actually pose less of a risk during an accident.
When it comes to New York laws, the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee clarifies that the state’s school bus seat belt law requires all buses manufactured after July 1, 1987 to have seatbelts. However, it is up to each school district to actively enforce this law, leaving some parents worried. Even though children under the age of four must ride in federally approved car seats while on school buses, a large majority of younger passengers could be too small for a regular seat belt to be effective. There may be an ongoing debate on the topic of mandatory seat belts on school buses, and the decision may ultimately be one of the school district’s, but it is clear that a great number of New York parents are concerned for the wellbeing of their children while they are under another’s care.