School bus crash stirs debate about seat belt laws - CBS46 News

School bus crash stirs debate about seat belt laws

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(Source: WGCL) (Source: WGCL)

The country is in disbelief over the horrible deaths of five children in Chattanooga, TN. The tragedy has renewed debate about seat belts in school buses and whether they would help save lives.

In Georgia, children under 18 are required to be buckled into passenger vehicles, including day care vans and church vans, but not school buses. The head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Mark Rosekind, thinks it's time to put three-point seat belts on every school bus.

"We know that seat belts will save lives if we put one for every kid on every school bus," Rosekind said. 

Right now, just six states require seat belts on school buses. Rosekind said his agency has been weighing whether to mandate them for four decades now. They estimate that four children die every year in large school bus crashes and believe seat belts would reduce those deaths by half.

So - why the hold up? On top of debate as to whether seat belts on school buses would be effective, funding is also an issue.

"We're not denying that this is going to be a challenge, but we are looking at every angle from research to funding to figure out how to help everybody nationwide get their kids even safer," Rosekind said.

Last year, NHTSA predicted it would cost between $7,300-10,000 to retrofit each school bus with seat belts. With an estimated half-million school buses in service, the cost would be in the billions.

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