Monday, the Pembroke Hill Schools will lead the nation in a change to their seatbelt policy on school buses. In line with the first day of school, 4 new buses will be introduced with seat belt restraints.
On the first day of school last year, 22 Pembroke Hill students and their driver were injured when their school bus slid off a highway ramp, tipped and slammed onto the ground .
Pembroke Hill may be the first school in the region to require seat belts on full-size buses , school officials say. Nationwide, seat belts on school belts are uncommon. Missouri and Kansas are among 44 states that do not require them.
Federal transportation experts have said that school buses are safe compared to other transportation options. The high-back, padded seats are considered safe, and adding belts would be too costly for the incremental safety gained, officials have said.
These 6 states already require seat belts on school buses: California, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York and Texas.
Other states have debated similar legislation. In Missouri, a governor’s task force recommended mandatory seat belts in 2005 after several crashes statewide, including one in Liberty that killed two drivers and severely injured several students. But the recommendation never got implemented.
Pembroke is a private Kansas City school and does not use buses daily to transport students to and from school. However, it uses them regularly for athletic teams and student field trips.
Another change coming soon to tour buses will happen in November 2016. Nationwide legislation will require seat belts on tour buses and buses that travel from one state to the next.