Only six states require seat belts on school buses. Virginia is not one of those six.
For some parents in Augusta County, not having seat belts on school buses is a touchy subject.
Some are frustrated that the bus driver gets a seat belt, but their kids don't.
The Augusta County Public Schools Department of Transportation handbook states that all bus drivers have to adhere to state motor vehicle laws and regulations. Some parents say their kids should have the same protection under the law.
“The police say it's click it or ticket. The school bus driver has got a seat belt. If the bus overturns the school bus driver could probably survive,” said Ronald Bressler, who has a daughter in the Augusta County school system.
Because his daughter can't wear a seat belt, Bressler worries that she won't be so lucky if her bus is involved in an accident. He's not the only parents with that complaint.
“I think they have way too many kids in the seats. You got four in
the seats. My daughter sometimes they're all crunched up. If an
accident does happen, somebody's going to get hurt,” said Allen Francis, also a parent.
A bus driving instructor for Augusta County says kids are just as safe in the buses without a seat belt. He says the kids are compartmentalized in the seats and are equally protected as they would be with a seat belt.
“If the child is sitting properly, in their compartment, then they are as safe as they can possibly be. Matter of fact, tests of shown that they are safer in a front end collision,” said Raymond Carrier, an Augusta County school bus driver instructor.
He says the seat belt could cause strain on the shoulder or pelvic area in case of an accident.
He also says making sure students are properly in their seats is one of the most important responsibilities of a bus driver.
“When you load this bus, the last thing you do before you pull away, is make sure everybody is seated properly. Which means, on their butt, back on the seat, feet on the floor or hanging, and inside the compartment,” said Carrier.