Cincinnati Public Schools

Ohio panel recommends against requiring seat belts on school buses

Feb. 1, 2024
The safety group was formed after an 11-year-old student was killed last year in a bus crash.

Ohio should not mandate seat belts on school buses, a safety panel has recommended.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that instead of requiring seat belts, the state should offer money to schools if they decide to upgrade their buses with seat belts, illuminated school bus signs, cameras, LED lights and other safety features.

“A statewide mandate of seat belts on buses is not the most effective use of government resources to keep our kids safe," Ohio School Bus Safety Working Group leader Andy Wilson said.

Upgrading most of the safety features, minus the seat belts, would cost about $13,000 per bus, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said. Adding seat belts would tack on about $19,000 to the bill. With about 15,000 school buses in Ohio, those upgrades could cost between $195 million and $480 million.

The state formed the safety group after Aidan Clark, 11, died in an August 2023 school bus crash in Clark County.

The safety panel also recommended more frequent and advanced training for school bus drivers. That training would cost the state about $5 million per year.

Other recommendations:

  • School districts should conduct annual performance evaluations for bus drivers.
  • School districts should offer school bus safety orientation for students and parents at the beginning of the school year.
  • An increase in penalties for drivers who endanger students or cause crashes that lead to passenger deaths.
  • Schools should conduct safety audits of their bus routes to reduce safety risks.

Federal law requires seat belts on buses that weigh less than 10,000 pounds, but there is no universal requirement for the larger buses that transport most children.

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy has been writing about education for American School & University since 1999. He also has reported on schools and other topics for The Chicago Tribune, The Kansas City Star, The Kansas City Times and City News Bureau of Chicago. He is a graduate of Michigan State University.

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