The group that represents bus manufacturers and school bus owners in Connecticut is easing its stance on the possible requirement of seat belts on all school buses.
“Overall it’s one of the safest vehicles out there," said Leslie Sheldon with the Connecticut School Transportation Association, COSTA.
Sheldon said the safest seat belt for children is a three-point-seat belt like those used in cars. She says the best way to move forward with a policy on seat belts is for new bus requirements that have the belts already installed. Retrofitting buses, Sheldon says, is not a viable or safe option.
“You compromise the safety of the bus and the seat if you retrofit a school bus. If it’s not seatbelt ready from the manufacturer, every time you take that seat out of the floor, you compromise the integrity" she said.
Mark Rosekind, the administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said earlier this month that he wants to see all school buses be equipped with seat belts.
The cost of a new bus with three point seat belts could cost a school system as much as $15,000. The cost of replacement buses has been COSTA's biggest concern.
Sheldon says if school systems can make the math work, that replacements with the new belts is the way to go.
“The good thing to do is to buy the bus with the seat already in it.”