Ohio school bus seat belt debate re-ignited after Tennessee bill progresses

Ohio school bus seat belt debate re-ignited after Tennessee bill progresses

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - A bill that Tennessee lawmakers just barely passed through committee that would require seat belts on school buses there, is renewing the discussion about seat belts on school buses here in Ohio. Tennessee lawmakers are under tremendous pressure to pass the bill after a devastating school bus crash killed six elementary school-aged children last November.

There was a bill that was before Ohio lawmakers back in 2014 that would have required seat belts on school buses, but that bill never made it into law.

In 2015, the National Transportation Safety Administration recommended that all buses be equipped with seat belts, but districts were not required to make the change.

The cost of adding the restraints to a school bus has been estimated to be anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 per bus.

Tennessee is looking at a price tag of $70 million to retrofit every one of their buses if their bill ultimately becomes law.

Safety experts have long maintained that school buses, by design, are safe without seat belts. It's been debated that school buses are heavy and distribute the impact of a crash differently than any other vehicle and that the interior of the school buses is cushioned and designed to keep kids in. Many also have said they worry that if school buses have seat belts, children could be trapped inside in the event there was a fire.

That being said, seven states currently require seat belts on school buses: Arkansas, California, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York and Texas.

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