Seat Belts on School Buses

By: Meg Gatto Email
By: Meg Gatto Email

Your child gets on the school bus each morning and you hope they're safe on their way to school.

There are no seat belts on those buses in Augusta County. However, the Loudoun County School Board has voted to put seat belts on all their buses.

Loudoun County School Board member Priscilla Godfrey says, "If the bus is going through an intersection and someone doesn't stop at the red, and T-bones the bus, the compartmentalization features of the bus are not sufficient to keep the children from leaving their seats."

Bill Schindler, head of transportation for Augusta County schools, disagrees with Priscilla Godfrey. He thinks the logistics of having seat belts for so many kids is too much for one bus driver to handle.

Schindler says, "The bus driver goes ahead to drive the bus safely, 60 kids behind that driver. Whose going to go ahead and put those seat belts on each child and make sure they're properly fastened to assure proper safety?"

Augusta County, along with Rockingham County and Harrisonburg city schools, have all considered the idea before, but as Schindler says, there are many things to consider, such as what would happen if there were a fire on a bus in which the kids used seat belts.

Schindler says, "Each one of the bus drivers is assigned a strap cutter. So, you can imagine going through a transit bus with 78 students being fastened, having to go ahead and remove each one of those straps."

Godfrey insists putting seat belts in new buses is in the best interest of Loudoun County students.

She adds, "We just hope that this will become habitual for children and they won't have to think twice about what they are in. They will be looking for the seat belts."

On the other hand, Schindler says all parents in the Valley should know that, although they don't have seat belts, school buses are safer than cars. They sit higher off the ground and have extra padding on the sides of the bus in case of a collision.


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