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Bus Safety
Bridget Colp
Thursday, January 02, 2020

What are the requirements for seat belts and child restraints when transporting students? Occupants of a school bus are not required to wear seat belts due to compartmentalization. The seats on the school bus are placed a certain distance apart from each other and have high backs that are very padded. As a result, in an accident the student would be propelled forward a very short distance into a padded seatback that in a way is like an early version of an airbag. In addition, occupants of a bus have a higher ride height so most impacts would occur lower and be absorbed by the frame below. Buses with a GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) of 10,000 lbs. or less are required to be manufactured with them; however, there is no law in place which requires the occupants to wear them even if the bus is so equipped. Head start regulations require child restraints on the bus. Note: The driver is required to wear a seat belt due to no compartmentalization for the driver and also so the driver can maintain control of the bus. Some schools develop their own policies regarding child restraints especially for preschool students being transported and the National Highway Safety Administration recommends this. If the student is old enough to sit up straight in the seat with his/her legs facing forward on their own, compartmentalization should work. Use of child restraints and seat belts on a school bus are not required by law unless it is HeadStart or required by an IEP. School Passenger Vehicles are required to have seat belts and or child restraints for every student being transported in a vehicle rated for no more than 10 passengers plus the driver as follows: (1) For a child under the age of four years an appropriate child passenger safety restraining system that meets or exceeds the standards and specifications contained in federal motor vehicle safety standard no. 213; (2) for a child four years of age, but under the age of eight years and who weighs less than 80 pounds or is less than 4 feet 9 inches in height, an appropriate child passenger safety restraining system that meets or exceeds the standards and specifications contained in federal motor vehicle safety standard no. 213; or (3) for a child eight years of age but under the age of 14 years or who weighs more than 80 pounds or is more than 4 feet 9 inches in height, a safety belt manufactured in compliance with federal motor vehicle safety standard no. 208.