The state of Alabama will conduct a three-year study of whether school buses in the state should have seat belts.
A task force formed to look at school bus safety following the 2006 death of four students in a Huntsville, Ala., wreck says it wants the pilot study to look at 10 to 15 buses that will be equipped with lap-and-shoulder belts. State lawmakers have allocated $750,000 to begin the study.
“While a pilot may not yield information regarding improving fatality rates in school bus accidents … the study may yield some vital information on passenger injuries, bus discipline and other safety improvements that are yet unknown,” says a report from the Governor's Study Group on School Bus Seat Belts.
The study also will look at additional costs associated with lap-and-shoulder belts because their presence decreases the capacity of a bus.
Four students were killed and dozens of others were injured in November 2006 when a school bus plunged 30 feet from a highway ramp.
The study group wants to conduct the pilot now because it believes the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration process for reviewing bus safety standards is not moving quickly enough.