Seatbelts to Become Compulsory for School Buses
According to The Detroit News, NHTSA or National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will issue new rules that require three-point safety belts on small school buses and taller seats on all vehicles.
Safety advocates should find today's NHTSA measures quite familiar since in May 2002, the transportation authority sent a report to Congress that basically proposed the same thing, a 4-inch increase in seat height and compulsory lap/shoulder belts for all buses under 10,000 pounds.
The same publication says that “NHTSA came under criticism for failing to act on its 2002 recommendations after a November 2006 bus accident in Huntsville, Ala., killed four highschool students when the bus tumbled off an interstate overpass.”
Interestingly enough, in May 2006 (around seven months before the accident), NHTSA was releasing a study downplaying the risks involved by school buses. Here's an extract:
“School buses are approximately seven times safer than passenger cars or light trucks. The school bus occupant fatality rate of 0.2 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT) is considerably lower than the fatality rates for passenger cars or light trucks (1.44 per 100 million VMT). The relative safety of school buses was addressed in 2002 by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in “The Relative Risks of School Travel: A National Perspective and Guidance for Local Community Risk Assessment.” It found that there are about 815 fatalities related to school transportation per year. Only 2 percent are associated with official school transportation, compared to 22 percent due to walking/bicycling to or from school, and 75 percent from passenger car transportation to or from school.”