After a Houston County first grader was killed in a school bus crash Monday, many people have asked why seat belts aren't required on Georgia school buses.
They've been required in all manufactured cars in America since 1965, but in 2018, there's no Georgia law, or Federal law that requires seat belts on school buses.
Director of the Georgia Office of Highway Safety, Harris Blackwood, says school buses are typically very safe for transporting children because of the way they are designed.
Blackwood says they are protected by the many rows of padded seats, describing them as "compartmentalized."
"We find that most of the injuries and fatalities occur when approaching the bus, crossing near the bus, or exiting the bus in some way," says Blackwood.
From 1995 to 2012, the state Department of Education says 27 students died in bus-related accidents. Only 4 were riding on the bus during the wreck, the other 23 were getting on or off the bus.
State Senator Larry Walker represents District 20, which includes Houston County. After Monday's crash that killed Parkwood first grader, Arlana Haynes, he says putting seat belts on buses across Georgia is a good idea, but he wants to talk further about whether they should be required.
"I do think it's something we ought to look at. If it costs $7,500 a bus or $10,000 a bus but it saves a life, you could argue that it's worth it," says Walker.
Walker says he plans to talk to speak to a committee Thursday to discuss the history of bus crashes in Georgia and possible remedies.
WMAZ also spoke to State Rep Shaw Blackmon of Bonaire Wednesday afternoon. Blackmon says he wants to "do anything" that will prevent another bus accident from killing a child.
Blackmon also says he plans to consult with bus safety experts and local officials to get their thoughts on having seat belts on school buses.
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