EBR Schools superintendent explores idea of seat belts on buses

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The leader of East Baton Rouge Parish public schools is exploring the idea of putting seat belts on school buses after a major school district in Texas said it would be doing so.

The Houston Independent School District announced Tuesday it would put seat belts on all new buses. The move follows a September bus crash that killed two teenage girls onboard.  

"Absolutely, it is on our mind when things like that happen and we always look toward what can we do to make our kids safer," said EBR Superintendent Warren Drake.

Drake said Houston schools acting to put seat belts on its new buses is a move he supports, and it could also happen in the parish.

"We're going to look into this to just get an idea of what it would cost on buses that we have right now," said Drake. "We have about 500 buses."

Houston has 1,100 buses. It is one of the largest fleets in the country.

Their move comes after new recommendations from transportation officials in Washington, saying students should buckle up.

The seat belts on Houston buses will have three endpoints, just like the restraints commonly found in passenger vehicles.

Along with Drake, the measure out of Houston is being supported by a local school bus driver. Cornell Griffin has been a school bus driver in the parish for nine years.

"In the case that we have an accident, it would keep them from getting hurt," said Griffin. "Maybe it would keep them from hanging out the windows, too."

Drake said bringing seat belts to school buses could potentially happen during his tenure, but it's not happening at least for the next year or two. He said his office will watch how things play out in Houston, making an ultimate decision based on what's best for students.

"Whatever will make our students safer in this buses is what we want to look at and make sure that our kids have every option available to them," said Drake.

While they are now advising putting seat belts on school buses, federal transportation officials said buses are still the safest way to get children to and from school.

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