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Sunday, September 14, 2014

NTSB and NHTSA Disagree on School Bus Seat Belts




Kids are back at school and many first-timers are coming home wondering why they don’t have to wear seat belts on the school bus. NHTSA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) seem to disagree on whether they’re a good idea.

According to, reports suggest that NHTSA has conflicting information on its own website and the reasons for NOT installing seat belts are pretty specious at this point. Digging a little deeper into the story, you find that government agencies responsible for safety standards can’t even agree.

NHTSA’s position is that “compartmentalization” — the idea that kids will stay contained within the three-sided box formed by the high-backed seats — is plenty of regulation.


School Bus Crash

The NTSB disagrees. The NTSB is responsible for major crash investigations involving trucks, aircraft, trains, etc., and after a thorough investigation of several horrific crashes, released findings calling for enhanced school bus safety.

In 2008, NHTSA was set to enact new regulations requiring three point seat belts, but it only went as far as mandating them in small, van-based buses, and not Class C and D buses that the majority of school children ride on.

This is the NHTA’s official position on school bus seat belts:
“There is insufficient reason for a Federal mandate for seat belts on large school buses.

 School bus transportation is one of the safest forms of transportation in the United States. We require all new school buses to meet safety requirements over and above those applying to all other passenger vehicles.

 These include requirements for improved emergency exits, roof structure, seating and fuel systems, and bus body joint integrity. These requirements help ensure that school buses are extremely safe.”

School Bus 2

For now, parents will continue to face significant fines if their children aren’t buckled up in their passenger cars, but kids in most states will remain untethered when they ride to school.

Photo Credit: NTSB.