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Should School Buses Have Seatbelts?

Apr 21, 2005 |

They carry our most precious cargo, but are school buses really safe?

Nobody questions that more than McAllen bus driver Tony Reyes, a fourteen year veteran behind the wheel.

"It's a big responsibility to be safe, because you have to keep track of what's going on in the back and you have to keep track of the front. You really have to watch the children," said Reyes.

McAllen ISD's Transportation Director Carlos Vargas says the size and sheer strength of a bus keeps kids safe, especially during a wreck.

Then there is a safety standard known as compartmentalization. The high backed bus chairs are built specifically to shield students from injury.

Vargas said, "in the event of an accident, the child's safety would be very high. If he (student) were to hit the front seat, the chairs have high energy absorbing seatbacks."

Many parents would like seatbelts as an added feature, but Vargas says they're more of a setback.

Small children are essentially trapped if the vehicle ends up submerged in water and he claims seatbelts can also be used as weapons.

"There's no studies that show that having safety belts inside of school buses provides more safety for the students," said Vargas.

During his tenure, Reyes has experienced plenty of near misses with careless drivers. However, he says he is confident children are protected when they're riding with him.

"The bus is safe because it's strong. It's built to withstand the bang of another car."

Experience speaks volumes.

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