Connecticut Schools, Government, Weigh in on School Bus Seatbelt Use

Though a state mandate for seatbelt use on school buses has been proposed by State Rep. Antonio Guerrera of Rocky Hill, a local school district has decided not to require their buses to install seatbelts.

The issue of school bus safety was raised when a Rocky Hill teen lost his life during aserious bus accident.  The incident compelled safety experts and lawmakers to determine if mandatory seatbelt use on buses could improve student safety.

A review by Torrington Public Schools has not found that mandatory seat belt use is necessary.  The argument against seatbelt use on buses relies on information about the “compartmentalization” of school bus seats.  This safety concept was adopted by theNational Highway Traffic Safety Administration forty years ago.

According to the NHTSA, compartmentalization works by creating a cushioned compartment where the force of the crash is absorbed and distributed by the seats in front of and behind a rider.  In theory this force is distributed across the entire body instead of just the head and neck.  The NHTSA has also stated that using compartmentalization instead of seatbelts on buses makes evacuation easier.

Only time will tell if the Connecticut legislatures will pass a law requiring seatbelt use on buses.  As this issue progresses on the state and local level our staff and attorneyswill keep you informed as to any new seatbelt laws or regulations that affect Central and Eastern Connecticut.


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