Avon Lake City Schools Superintendent shares why she doesn’t think school buses should have seat belts

Published: Oct. 12, 2023 at 5:11 PM EDT|Updated: 11 hours ago
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The Ohio School Bus Safety Working Group met in person on Thursday in Columbus. The focus of the meeting was on seat belts on school buses and if they are a good idea.

Avon Lake’s Superintendent, Joelle Magyar, was the featured speaker at the meeting. She spoke about her district’s experience testing out tow buses that have seatbelts on them.

“In 2019, our district purchased two 72 passenger Blue Bird busses with seatbelts. Those seatbelts were installed three per seat. The cost was about $15,000 extra per bus to put those seatbelts on the bus,” says Magyar.

While some parents are hoping this would be standard across the state, some experts slamming the brakes on the idea. Magyar says some students struggled getting buckled in.

“So in many cases, the bus driver had to stop the bus, and get out of their seat. Which is another safety concern if a bus driver is having to get out of their seat to put buckles on,” says Magyar.

Another thing they learned is the shoulder straps didn’t fit some students.

“If you are very tall or you are a taller student, they struggled, so it forced them to sit with their knees crouched up inside of them,” says Magyar.

Magyar says that some parents of Kindergarteners called the school and reported red rubbing rashes on the necks of students due to the should strap hitting to high. She also said they had a couple cases where backpacks got stuck in seat belts and the bus driver had to pull over to help free it.

“In one particular case with our little guys, the bus driver couldn’t get the backpack unstuck and had to rip the backpack strap to get the student unattached from the seatbelt,” says Magyar.

She says parents have told her that the seat belts could prevent one tragedy from happening, but they question if they could be setting them up for another.

“God forbid a bus catches on fire and we are having kids that are struggling to get out of the seat belts,” says Magyar. “Will the seatbelts help with maybe one type of tragedy but are we setting ourselves up for maybe another horrific tragedy by requiring them on all of the buses.”

According to Magyar, there were longer route times for the buses that had seat belts and drivers prefer the busses that don’t have them. This is why the school hasn’t purchased any more since 2019.