Viral video of Ohio crash renews discussion of seat belts on school buses

School Bus Safety

HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - After a recent viral video of a school bus crash in Ohio, many people are wondering about bus safety.

A week ago, the video of the crash caught the attention of many across the country. The shocking video from Ohio shows the bus flip after being struck by another vehicle, leaving terrified students pinned inside.

That video is causing many people to ask if seat belts should be a requirement for school buses.

A report from the National Education Association highlights the concerns from bus drivers about adding seat belts. Some worries are belt buckles could be used as a weapon, making sure the seat belts are properly fastened so students aren’t injured by the belt in an accident, and students getting trapped in an emergency like a fire because of the belt.

According to the National Highway Transportation Administration, there is insufficient reasons for a federal mandate for seat belts on large school buses. They added that school buses are much safer than other vehicles for a variety of reasons so it isn’t necessary.

While the school bus crash happened in Ohio, it did prompt the question to be asked along the Grand Strand; are seat belts needed on school buses?

Horry County School Board Chairman Ken Richardson sees both sides.

“Looking at the video, of course if the children would have had seat belts on they would not have been flying around in the bus, but again if the bus had a situation where there was a fire on the bus and you’ve got to get the kids out, you have safety features on the bus and exits on the bus. You want to try to get the children to the exits as fast as you can to get them out," Richardson said.

Richardson added Horry County buses are up to code and safe.

According to the National Highway Transportation Administration, school buses are one of the safest forms of transportation in the United States.

In a statement, NHTA officials said all new school buses meet safety requirement over and above those applying to all other passenger vehicles. Some of the requirements include improved emergency exits, roof structures, and seating and fuel systems.

So is there a difference in safety between Horry County’s newer and older school buses?

Richardson said all Horry County school buses are up to safety standards and the new buses have features geared more toward comfort.

“The new buses, of course they are propane versus diesel. They are quieter and air conditioned. We have video cameras on all of our buses,” he said. “We can tell what’s going on all the buses all the time. We can actually monitor a bus and tell where it is on the route.”

School officials also want to stress from the time a student is picked up to the moment they are dropped off, it’s their responsibility to keep them safe and they are doing everything they can to ensure it.

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