In the last month, several school bus accidents have been reported in San Antonio, Atlanta and in Los Angeles, where 21 students were injured when a BMW broadsided a bus last Monday. The slew of accidents have raised concern that older buses should be retrofitted with seatbelts.
However, results from a study commissioned by Alabama Gov. Bob Riley after a deadly school bus accident in Huntsville in July 2005 revealed little reason to require seat belt installation.
According to the Washington Post, the study affirmed that, not only were buses "safe enough without seat belts," but because of their dimensions, were six to eight times safer than riding in cars. The study also highlighted that belt installation could range from $11,000 to $15,000 per bus, a cost that could be more effectively spent on safety measures for loading and unloading students from buses where a majority of accidents occurred.
In spite of this evidence, the L.A. Times reported that district spokesman, Robert Alaniz promised that their fleet, one of the oldest in the nation, would be replaced by 260 new buses satisfying the 2005 requirement, which mandates that buses carrying over 16 students be fitted with three-point seat belts.