In April of 1977, Federal Motor Vehicle Standard 222 effectively changed the design of school bus seats from the likes of plastic, fiberglass and low metal-backed seats to the thickly-padded seats still in use today. The compartmentalization seat standard without seat belts, took 10 years to develop from the initial test results in 1967. Over the years it evolved with improved seat design with high-back padded seats spaced close together.
Researchers who conducted these 1967 tests concluded that after high back seats, next in importance to school bus passenger collision safety is the use of a three-point belt, a lap belt or other effective form of restraint. That was 49 years ago and some form of seat belts are just being put in school buses! The main reason – cost!
Over these 49 years we have seen stop arms, crossing gates, braking systems, emergency exits, fuel tank crash barriers, reflective tape, diesel emissions control, automatic transmissions, LED lights, and many other school bus construction standards implemented. Were any of these changes debated for cost? If you add up the cost impact of the above mentioned changes over the past 40+ years, should the cost of putting seat belts in school buses even be a part of the debate?