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Top transportation safety officials say it’s time to put seat belts on all school buses

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Nashville, TN — Top highway safety officials are renewing their recommendation to put seat belts on all school buses.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration held a conference Thursday in Washington with other top transportation officials. The main focus was school bus safety.

“School buses are the safest the way they are now, but we can do better if we get seat belts on there,” said Rob Maloy with the National Transportation Safety Board.

It happens every time a child dies on a school bus.

Every time a deadly school bus crash happens, there is a renewed push for legislation to put seat belts on school bus crashes, but NHTSA Administrator Dr. Mark Rosekind says most of the time the bills fall flat.

In 2016, 10 states introduced seat belt legislation, but not one of them enacted it. Those states were Arizona, Connecticut, Indiana, Hawaii, Maryland, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, West Virginia and Massachusetts.

“This is a shared responsibility. This doesn’t get done unless everyone is at the table, it’s inclusive and everyone is working toward the same target,” said Rosekind.

Safety officials say if you are confused as to why there are no seat belts on buses, imagine how your children feel.

“We have a culture now where as soon as you get into a car you are buckled into a child’s safety seat and then eventually a booster seat. They are used to buckling up and I think what ends up happening is that walk onto a school bus and they are just as confused, just like the newspapers saying wait a minute, where are the seat belts?” said transportation engineer Bryan Katz.

It’s a goal for NHTSA, to eliminate deaths within the next 30 years.

Rosekind says $1 million will go to the initiative for research, emerging technology, and most importantly, much more dialogue.

Rosekind says a tragedy like the one in Chattanooga should never happen again.

“There is no more heart-rending, dreadful, tragic crash than when children are involved,” said Rosekind.

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