School Bus Shoulder Belt Requirement Rejected

     WASHINGTON (CN) – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration refuses to require three-point seat belts (lap/shoulder belts) on large school buses because of the cost.
     The agency’s rationale is that budget shortfalls plus extra cost to meet federal seatbelt requirements would equal fewer buses operating, leaving children to ride in less-safe private vehicles, “often with a teenage driver.” The agency states that the risk of traffic-related injury or fatality to children riding in a private vehicle is greater than when a large school bus is used.
     The agency allows that lap/shoulder belts could “be effective in reducing fatalities and injuries for not only frontal collisions, but also rollover crashes where seat belt systems are particularly effective in reducing ejection.” However, installation of the belts would be costly, and, in denying a petition to reconsider bus safety rules, the agency opines that state or local governments are in a better position to determine if limited resources should be spent on adding lap/shoulder belts to the buses, or other on safety measures, such as adding monitors to the bus loading and unloading zone.
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