FULTON CO., Ga – Hundreds of students in Fulton County will head back to class with an added layer of safety.
Ninety new buses in Fulton County will run on propane to help the environment. To bring peace of mind to parents, the buses are equipped with safety belts.
At Hillside Elementary, 5th grader J.J. Neeb is accustomed to bus rides without seatbelts.
“When they do sharp turns, kids are falling out of their seats,” says Neeb. “Kids are knocking into other people.”
They are problems that should be eliminated once students are able to buckle up.
In 2015, the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommended seatbelts on school buses, but it’s not a requirement. Transportation officials insist students well protected by the high cushioned seats of a school bus.
The head of transportation for Fulton County schools decided it was time for the added safety of belts. It comes at a cost of $8,000 a bus.
“One cannot, in my opinion, put a value or price on the safety or the life of a child,” says Sam Ham.
Drivers predict it will lead to fewer distractions during the trip to school.
“You have some kids that choose to stand no matter what the rules are so, we don't have to worry about that anymore,” says driver Laverne McClusky.
Fulton County's plan is to retrofit old buses. Ham predicts that over the next five years, 70% of the district’s regular fleet will be outfitted with the extra layer of safety.