Seatbelts on Buses- Are they Necessary? - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

10/22/03

Seatbelts on Buses- Are they Necessary?

For 11 years, Sherry Day has worn a seat belt to work and while she works. She drives one of 19 school bus routes for Roosevelt ISD every morning, and in her career she's had many close calls. "This intersection down here at 1724 and farm road 40. It's very dagnerous intersection, they'll run right out in front of you," says Day.

It's those close calls that make Sherry extra careful. Just a few weeks ago in Ohio, a bus driver swerved to miss an oncoming car. An on board camera captured the children flying as the bus slides and falls on its side. More than a dozen students were injured none seriously.

In accidents like this, Department of Public Safety officer Gaylon Paul says seat belts would prevent injuries and fatalities. "I believe in the seat belt law and I think anytime that you have a vehicle that is traveling it would be beneficial for everyone to be seat belted," says Paul.

Even the most experienced bus driver feels seat belts would be a hindrance in any kind of bus crash. "It's really not safe for child to be tied in because it's more dangerous for them because they can't get out of the bus that way. If the bus is on fire kids tend to panic and can't undo the seatbelt," says Rick Tomison, Bus Supervisor.

Tomison, is a bus supervisor for Roosevelt. He says they have seat belts in only a few buses. But feels keeping them on a bunch of rowdy youngsters is a battle in itself. "It would be virtually impossible to have seat belts with as many kids as we have cause the driver can't keep them in their seats."

He's seen two accidents at Roosevelt, luckily none of them with children on board. And he feels seatbelts should be used in cars but not in school buses. "For cars yes but we don't have the speed cars have. We run 50 miles perhour on our routes we don't build up any speed," says Tomison.

Although 35,000 school buses transport 1.4 million Texas children daily. The Texas Department of Public Safety says school buses provide one of the safest modes of transportation, accounting for less than one-half of one percent of Texas roadway accidents.

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