Should school buses in Hawaii be required to have seat belts?
Federal officials say they should. So why is it not required here?
It is an idea that is currently being discussed by Hawaii lawmakers.
While smaller school buses have seat belts, most buses that carry more than 24 students do not.
“In Hawaii we require little children to be put in car seats yet everyday these same kids are getting on buses, and these buses don’t have seat belts,” said HSTA president Corey Rosenlee.
States like California, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York and Texas all require seat belts on school buses, but in Hawaii there is no such requirement.
The Department of Education says it’s not against the idea, but says retrofitting buses with seat belts could decrease bus capacity. That could mean more buses and funding would be needed in order to get kids to school.
In 2014 a school bus ran into the back of a truck on the H1 Freeway. There were no children on board, but the driver was taken to the hospital in serious condition. That same year, in Tennessee, two school buses collided killing two children and an adult. One of the buses involved in that crash was left turned on it’s side.
“We must always put the priority and safety of our children as one of our top priorities,” said Rosenlee.
The Department of Education says school buses are built with safety in mind. Steel frames, high carriages, wide wheel bases and padded rounded seating are all added safety features. The DOE went on to say that safety is also part of bus driver training where lower speeds and deliberate, cautious driving is stressed to avoid accidents.