School Bus Seatbelts

The Seward bus crash that killed four people, raised the issue of making seatbelts mandatory on all Nebraska school buses. Supporters of mandatory seatbelts say deaths can be prevented in “rollover” school bus accidents like the Seward crash.

It was October 13th, 2001, when a Seward bus careened off a bridge in Omaha. It fell 49 feet and landed in a creek. Four people were killed, including 14-year-old Benjamin Prescott.

“I was asking him to wake up and there was no response,” recalls Ben's mother Dawn. She survived the crash. The whole time she was just a few seats back from her son. “I'm sure Ben didn't have anything to hold onto. You can sit there and kick yourself, but if only you could have yelled hold onto something…knowing what was coming.”

It's that realization, that has lead Dawn Prescott to dedicate her life to lobbying the Unicameral to place seatbelts on school buses. In fact, California, New York, New Jersey, Florida, and Louisiana now require seatbelts on buses.

In fact I.M.M.I, based in Indianapolis, Indiana makes the SafeGuard Seat, which includes a lap and shoulder belt. The company has performed their own crash tests, and say those tests prove the benefits of lap shoulder belts on buses.

However, the Nebraska Student Transportation Association has lobbied against requiring buses in Nebraska to be equipped with them. Based on their testimony before the Unicameral, the group argues that belts may increase spinal injuries, cause longer bus evacuation times, and reduce the capacity of school buses.