After seeing tragic school bus accidents like we did in 2016, a question that comes to many parents’ minds is: Why doesn’t my child’s school bus have seat belts?

It is now required in all states to wear seat belts while in a car whether you are driving or you are a passenger. It is also required for infants and toddlers to be in a car seat that is appropriate for their age and weight.

With all the new safety requirements and mandates, you would think that seat belts on buses would also be required.  The answer is more complex than you think.

Research shows that seat belts do not make school buses safer. In fact, it is 40 times safer to travel in a school bus opposed to a car. The concept that makes this statement true is called compartmentalization.

The meaning of compartmentalization is as follows: the seats on the school bus are placed very close to each other and have high backs that are very padded. This is so that in the event of an accident, the student would be propelled forward a very short distance into a padded seat back, like an airbag deployment.

Also, children sit high off the ground in school buses which is also an added safety feature.  If a bus were to get struck by a vehicle, the impact would occur beneath the seats.

Another factor is cost. Seat belts would not only cost more money to install, it would also create a need for more buses.  Seat belts would take up extra space in buses eliminating seats. Some school districts do not have the means to do this unfortunately.

Although research shows installing seat belts is unlikely to add to the safety of school buses, currently six states require seatbelts on school buses: California, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York and Texas.

Even though research shows that school buses are safe as is, many parents may still feel more comfortable if seat belts were on board.

Source:, “Why don’t buses have seatbelts?”

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