DES MOINES, Iowa – The State Board of Education is now requiring all new school buses in Iowa school districts to have seat belts.
The new rule will go into effect on October 2nd unless a committee of Iowa legislators decides to vote against it.
Iowa Department of Education Communications Director Staci Hupp said a group of Iowa school transportation officials from across the state met last year and gave the recommendation to have seat belts on buses to the department.
“New safety features are being introduced all the time for new cars, so why wouldn’t we also incorporate them into our school buses which are carrying 240,000 students to and from school each day,” Hupp said.
Hupp said this will only affect newly purchases buses going forward.
On average a school bus costs $90,000. Installing seat belts in the buses costs an additional $8,000.
Hupp said the seat belts add an extra layer of protection for students on board.
“The tight space and the padded seats are designed to really protect students in a rear and front collision. The lap-shoulder seat belts really provide that further protection for students in other types of accidents including side-impact collisions and rollovers,” Hupp said.
Hupp said it will take around 15 years for districts to have all of its buses with seat belts.
Des Moines Public Schools started purchasing school buses with seat belts back in 2016.
DMPS Safety and Training Specialist Robin Witt said students are still adjusting to wearing seat belts on a bus.
“When they get into their parents' cars we know that they put on the seat belt, but for years they have literally gotten on a school bus and have not had to worry about it. We just need to stay calm,” Witt said.
Out of 130 school buses, 26 of DMPS' have seat belts.
Hupp said there will be additional training for both drivers and students when it comes to wearing a seat belt on a bus.
Out of 327 school districts about 17 have already adopted the new rule.