HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A local school district is taking student safety to a new level.
Henrico County Public Schools has become the first school district in the state to install seat belts on school buses.
Next month, the district is putting 24 new buses on the road, all of them equipped with three-point shoulder and lap seat belts.
County leaders told 8News that this was the right time to improve student safety.
“Occasionally you see an accident across the country where a bus is t-boned or rolled over, and some of those types of accidents we will have enhanced safety with students in a three-point seat belt as opposed to no restraint at all,” HCPS’ Director of Pupil Transportation Josh Davis told 8News Reporter Kristin Smith.
Some parents say they excited about the safety upgrade.
“We put our kids in booster seats and car seats, and the fact that we put all of our children on buses and they go around the city without any restrains…I think it’s fabulous,” Mindy Cloyes said.
“If there’s any accidents, the kids are the ones being pushed out of their seats, so I think that would be great,” said parent Jennie Balagot.
One mother said she likes the idea, but wonders if children will be able to safely strap themselves in.
“I could see it would be a logistical nightmare to undo all the buckles, especially for little ones like kindergartners. Can they even undo the buckles?” asked Tammy Leopold.
The district says wearing the seatbelt will be voluntary and that it will train all students to buckle themselves up. Experts like Martha Meade from AAA say Henrico is leading the way for other school districts.
“This will certainly prompt additional conversations and will take us where we need to go eventually,” Meade said.
With a total of 600 operating buses, Henrico Schools says it has a way to go before all of its fleet is equipped with the safety belts, but there is money budgeted to buy additional buses over the next several years.