Carlucci’s Column: All School Buses in New York Should Have Over the Shoulder Seat Belts

BY SENATOR DAVID CARLUCCI

A 10-year-old student and a 51-year-old teacher lost their lives when a school bus they were on slammed into a dump truck in New Jersey. More than 40 others were injured. A criminal complaint alleged the crash was caused by the driver making an illegal U-turn. It is tragic and deadly accidents like this that reinforce the need for school buses to meet the top safety standards.

According to a report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) there have been 1,282 deaths of all ages from school transportation-related crashes from 2007 to 2016. That is an average of about 128 fatalities a year.

Now after much debate, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is recommending all school buses have 3-point safety belts similar to those in cars. The NTSB looked at five school bus crashes, which combined saw 8 deaths and nearly 90 injured, ranging from minor to serious. The NTSB determined in school bus crashes where there was side impact or high-speed rollovers, seat belts could have saved lives or lessened injuries.

In New York State, school buses are only required to have over the lap belts, and it is up to school districts as to whether students must wear them. This is why I have introduced new legislation, which requires 3-point seat belts on all school buses and requires drivers make sure that students are wearing their seat belts.

New York needs to take the NTSB’s guidance seriously to ensure the safety of our children, and lawmakers must make this legislation a top priority.