WV Education Dept. won’t require bus seat belts, going against advice

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia Board of Education members have chosen not to require seat belts be added to state school buses.

The board made the decision Wednesday while reviewing its bus policy. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration allows states to choose whether buses have restraints in place for students, though that goes against advice from the National Transportation Safety Board and American Academy of Pediatrics, which recommend them.

West Virginia officials placed the idea of adding enhanced restraints for children under 5 and weighing less than 40 pounds before the public at a series of comment sessions in October. The State Department of Education then backtracked and said that was an inadvertent proposal, changing it to just a recommendation ahead of Wednesday’s meeting, the newspaper said.

The department defended its decision in a statement saying school buses are designed to be safer than passenger vehicles, pointing to their compartmentalized seats and high energy absorbing seat backs. But in October, the department announced a flaw had been discovered with those seat backs when nearly 400 buses were found to lack the cushioning needed to absorb impacts and prevent injuries in the event of a crash.

Kassie Simmons
Kassie Simmons joined the team in January 2019 as a weekend journalist. She graduated from Virginia Tech in just two and a half years with a BA in multimedia journalism. During her short time at Virginia Tech, she served as the editor for the university’s chapter of The Tab. Kassie was named the top reporter for The Tab at Virginia Tech on multiple occasions and made the list for the top 30 reporters for The Tab in the U.S. She also studied theater performance and minored in creative writing. Before coming to WOAY, Kassie interned at WSLS in Roanoke and the Tidewater Review in her hometown of West Point, Va. She has loved following breaking news since her childhood and has a passion for delivering the stories people care most about. Kassie is excited to be working in Southern West Virginia and looks forward to all the adventures ahead of her. You can follow her on Twitter at @KassieLSimmons and like her page on Facebook. If you have a story you think she should check out, send her an email at ksimmons@woay.com.