New Bus Safety Rules

JONESBORO (KAIT) Here in Region 8 we are no strangers to school bus accidents. Fortunately the ones that have occurred over the past couple of years have left no fatalities. New DOT rules are coming that should make buses safer.

The first new rule concerns the seats. The rule says that the padded back will be raised to 24 inches over the now standard 20 inches. The buses I looked at today from the Westside School District were well over that already.

School bus driver, parent and teacher Mary Jo Clark has two kids her ride her bus. She has been driving for 10 years and she says a higher backed seat could lead to complications.

"The problem I have with that is, I can't see my smaller kids over the high backed seats so there's  pros and cons with that as well."

Clarks bus came from Oklahoma and already has 30 inch seat backs well within the new standards.

The second new rule concerns seat belts. The new rules say the smaller buses in the 12 to 16 passenger range will have shoulder/lap belt combinations versus the standard lap belt which they are equipped with now. These smaller buses have belts because they cannot take the impacts like a larger bus.

These new rules will only affect new buses. Westside has no plans to buy buses this year due to monetary restraints.

Clark says the one safety measure she would like to see on a bus is an aide.

"I believe an aide on every bus would be safer than high backed seats or putting the seat belts on. I think that's the only way you're gonna make them be safe and the driver can do their job."