NTSB renews push for seatbelt requirements on school buses following deadly 2020 crash

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The federal agency in charge of investigating transportation accidents is renewing its push for lap and shoulder seatbelt requirements on all school buses that stems from a 2020 deadly crash in southeast Tennessee.

A school bus collided with a utility truck in Decatur, TN in Oct. 2020, killing two people, including a 7-year-old child.

Now the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is reiterating its push for all large school buses to require lap and shoulder belts for all passenger seating.

We asked the NTSB if these changes could have helped save lives in the 2020 Tennessee crash.

“We believe at least their injuries would have been reduced with lap-shoulder belts,” said Meg Sweeney, Project Manager with the Office of Highway Safety for NTSB.

NTSB is also pushing for requirements for lane departure prevention systems and onboard video event recorders for large school buses.

The bus involved in the 2020 crash did have cameras, which NTSB said helped in the investigation.

“This particular school bus had forward-facing as well as inward-facing cameras and we were able to collect critical information regarding the positioning of the children on this school bus,” said Sweeney.

School bus requirements are generally made at the state level or from local school districts.

According to NTSB, there are nine states that already require lap or shoulder seatbelts on newly purchased school buses including:

  • New York
  • Florida
  • Louisiana
  • Arkansas
  • Texas
  • New Jersey
  • Nevada
  • California
  • Iowa