School buses with seat belts debut in Henrico

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Henrico County School buses with seatbelts hit the streets this week for the first time.

The school district is the first in Virginia to implement the added safety measure.

So far, Henrico Schools has purchased 24 new buses equipped with three-point safety belts. 8News reporter Kristin Smith went to Springfield Park Elementary to speak with kids about the change.

Students there said they are still getting used to the seatbelts because they are a little different than the ones used in their family’s cars.

However, the school district says they are doing everything they can to help kids with the transition and to keep them safe.

Patrick Fetta, a grandparent of a student at the school says he appreciates the initiative.

“Anything we can do to improve kids’ health would be great because if you have an accident, you need the constant contact to hold you to the seat,” Fetta said.

So far, Henrico County has only rolled out the first of the new buses. While the seatbelts are similar to those used in family cars, one first-grader named Locke Morris said he is still getting used to the change.

“On the bus, they have a yellow thing to make it go down, so it won’t touch your neck and the ones in the car don’t have a yellow thing,” Locke said.

Students like Locke got the chance to learn how to use the seatbelts before they boarded their new bus.

Parents were also on hand for the demonstrations to see how the belts work first-hand.

Most people seemed pleased to know there is an added safety advantage on a select group of buses.

Jesse Fore, whose nephew rides the bus said it’s a good first step.

“I think it’s good that the buses are finally getting this and starting to make them use them, actually be safe, safer I guess than they were,” Fore said.

The belts are optional because it would be time-consuming to patrol the bus for students who didn’t strap in, but little Locke promises he will always wear his.

“Because seatbelts protect you and no one wants to die,” Locke said.

So far, just 24 out of the district’s 600 buses have seatbelts.

As buses are retired, they will be replaced with new ones that are outfitted with the extra safety.

Even so, it is going to take a long time to get them all equipped.

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