School Bus Seat Belts: How Costs Factor Into the Debate
published on May 26, 2017 by Sonia Mastros
The debate over the installation of seatbelts in school buses isn’t likely to end soon. Many states now require, or have introduced legislation to require, seatbelts on vehicles that transport students. While it’s easy to assume that installing seatbelts would be the solution to ensuring school bus safety, the issue is rather complex, with compelling arguments made on both sides.
One of the main arguments against the installation of seatbelts is that buses are considered extremely safe. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that an average of six students die in school bus crashes each year, compared to the 42,000 people killed in other types of traffic accidents.
Understanding the Cost vs. Benefits of School Bus Seatbelts
Another concern for school districts considering seatbelt installation is the cost. According to the National Association of Pupil Transportation, outfitting school buses with seat belts ranges from $7,000 to $11,000 per vehicle. Of course, those who advocate for seatbelts as a way to increase school bus safety argue that this is a small price to pay. As big of a financial hit as the initial installation of seatbelts may be, when you consider that many school buses remain in a fleet for 15 years or more, the cost over time seems less extreme.
When the budget constraints that most school districts face, some wonder if money would be better spent on other safety measures. After all, driver training, newer buses and updated equipment can all reduce the risk of school bus accidents. Some call for further research on the benefits vs. costs of seatbelts on school buses before determining what the best course of action would be.
Beyond school bus seat belts, there are many other tools now available to enhance school bus safety. For example, targeted transportation software helps districts to plan safe routes for their buses and identify any unplanned stops or route deviations that would indicate that there is a problem. Many of these technological solutions are relatively cost-effective and can greatly increase the level of safety for your students.
For more information regarding school bus safety and transportation software options, contact our team of transportation specialists.
Does your school district have seatbelts on its buses? How did cost factor into the decision to install seatbelts or opt not to? We appreciate your feedback.