The fatal school bus crash in Tennessee is re-igniting a debate about whether school buses would be safer with seatbelts.
5 On Your Side asked local school districts that question, and the Rockwood School District shared its strategy. Superintendent Eric Knost said none of the district’s buses are equipped with seatbelts because most transportation safety experts agree this is safer for children.
“There’s a lot of data out there what does happen in a bus accident. More often than not, buses end up upright,” Knost said. “In the rare event a bus is flipped or turned and a kid is stuck in a harness, that can be a bad thing.”
However, Knost said there are also some arguments in favor of equipping school buses with seatbelts. For that reason, the district purchased buses that have the option of adding seatbelts in the future.
“We knew that was an ongoing conversation,” Knost said. “There would be a cost to that, but cost is not the factor. Safety is the factor.”
There are also other safety measures on the buses, including technology that can monitor speed and driving habits.
“There’s data gathered on the bus. If there’s ever a concern with speeding or driving recklessly, we can pull the data from the bus from that time. We can also do that randomly at any time,” Knost said.
Rockwood also makes sure the drivers undergo federal and state background checks. There are also regular physicals, driver training, and random drug testing.