NTSB pushing Texas schools to install seat belts on buses - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

NTSB pushing Texas schools to install seat belts on buses

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TYLER (KYTX) -

The National Transportation Safety Board voted Tuesday to recommend that Texas and five other states begin distributing literature to school children that highlights the alleged dangers of traveling on school buses that are not equipped with seat belts.

Texas law does not require districts to install seat belts on their buses.

Out of Tyler ISD's 131 buses, some seats do have them. Those restraints are for children with special needs. Most seats on most of the buses rely on padding and the strength of the bus to protect children in an accident.

Kayle Kienitz is a mom from Chapel Hill who couldn't help but worry the first time she put her daughter on the bus.

"I knew that everything would be fine, but still with that fear of it being your own child, it kind of worried me."

Now, she worries less because school bus accidents are so rare.

"She rides the bus every day," Kienitz said. "To school and on the way home."

Kienitz said she does not worry about whether the bus has seatbelts. But after a tragic crash in New Jersey last year, that's exactly what the NTSB has set its sights on.

"We know that these lap belts help the students help these students during these impacts because it keeps the students within their compartment," Dr. Kristin Poland with the National Transportation Safety Board said to board members.

On Tuesday the board made a recommendation that Texas schools hand out information every year on school bus dangers "including the potential harm of not wearing a seatbelt or wearing one but not adjusting it properly."

"Safety comes before cost, comes before anything else," TISD Transportation Director John Bagert said. "Safety is number one."

Bagert said the district has looked into seat belts.

"In buses equipped with seat belts, those seat belts have been removed and used as weapons in fights on the buses. So it's our contention that we have more fights than we do accidents and it's better that we not put the potential weapon in the hands of students that are fighting."

The NTSB stopped short of recommending that all school buses have seat belts. If they do get to that point it would have to go through additional steps before becoming a requirement.

It's unclear whether the State of Texas will follow the NTSB's recommendations on seat belt safety hand-outs.

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