US rejects belts regulation

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The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it has rejected a petition asking the agency to require seat belts on school buses.

The agency said the seat belts are an unnecessary expense, the Washington Post reported.

NHTSA said the deaths are generally from impact with another vehicle or object and that “in such circumstances seat belts will not be effective in preventing the fatality,” the newspaper reported.

While small school buses weighing less than 10,000 pounds are required to have shoulder-lap belts, US government safety experts say larger buses are safer because of the padded high-back seats, as well as the tight distance between the rows that meaning riders in a front-impact crash are projected forward into a cushioned seat back designed to absorb the impact.

In a 2002 NHTSA report to Congress, the agency said that shoulder-lap belts are effective in reducing school bus fatalities but the costs are significant. The addition of the belts would cost $5,485 to $7,346 for each large bus, the agency added.