Should School Buses Have Seat Belts?

A bus driver and a pickup driver remain in serious condition after Monday's crash involving a Norris school bus.

The 35 kids who were taken to the hospital are all out now, but the crash has many people wonderng if seat belts should be put on school buses.

The bus headed to Norris school had about two stops to go before dropping nearly 50 students off for the day.  But instead of going to school, many of them went to the hospital.

Now students and parents are wondering if something could be done to put seat belts on buses.

Katy Campbell says it might be a good idea.  “Seatbelts would have made a big difference, that's for sure.”

But how big of a difference? Russ Inbody of the Nebraska Department of Education says a lot of research has been done on the issue.  Some experts say simple lap belts could end up hurting passengers more than they help them.

The ideal belt would be similar to what we see in most cars, but those could reduce capacity on the busses.

Inbody says there are enough safety precautions in place to make bus travel, even without seatbelts, still safer than traveling by car.  “You look at these accidents and you see that the damage and the injuries are usually fairly minor. There would be a lot more if they were in a car or van.”

That's not to say belts won't be on buses sometime in the future.

State Senator John Harms has proposed seatbelt legislation twice.  Both times it's been voted down.

The Nebraska Department of Education does evaluate safety measures every 3-5 years or as needed.  As of now, they do follow all guidelines set forth by federal agencies.