The transportation director for the state’s largest school district is pleased with student reaction to the addition of seat belts in buses.
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The Des Moines School District is the lone district in the state taking part in a bus seat belt study. The trial, launched in late October, is being paid for by the Iowa Department of Education, school bus seat manufacturer SynTec and Thomas Bus Sales.
Des Moines Schools transportation director Todd Liston says he’s thrilled with the student response. “The kids haven’t had any real push back or, you know, hesitation to put the belts on,” Liston said. “The kids are hopping on the bus, sitting down, and buckling up without any real hesitation at all.”
The district has two buses outfitted with lap-shoulder belts for 65 passengers. One of the bus drivers told Liston he’s now able to focus more of his attention on the road, rather than on students. “What he told me was, ‘I am definitely less distracted by the kids when they’re in their seat belts.’ Man, I thought that was just huge,” Liston said.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommended for the first time in 2015 that seat belts be added to school buses. But, it remains unclear if Iowa or others states will move in that direction. A big factor is the price tag: it costs about $8,000 per bus to add seat belts.