Smaller school buses will have to be equipped with lap-and-shoulder seat belts for the first time under a federal government rule drafted following the deaths of four Alabama students on a school bus that nose-dived off an overpass. Larger buses also will have higher seat backs under the new policy. The design change is supposed to keep older, heavier students from being thrown over the seats in a collision. The seat belts will have to be installed only in new buses weighing 5 tons or less, and the requirement will not take effect until 2011. These smaller school buses are already required to have lap belts, but not the safer, harness-style belts. There is no seat belt requirement for larger buses.To read the Associated Press article, click here.
FROM NOVEMBER 2007: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is proposing that small school buses be required to have three-point safety belts and that all school buses must have higher seat backs; however the agency will not require belts in larger buses. The new requirement for lap and shoulder safety belts would apply only to buses under 10,000 pounds and comes more than five years after the agency first said it was considering such regulations. (The Detroit News)