Starting in October, any new school buses will need to be purchased with lap-shoulder seat belts.

Earlier this month, the Iowa State Board of Education approved new rules requiring school busses manufactured after October 2nd to have lap-shoulder seat belts and other safety equipment like handrails, exterior lights, and crash barriers on the front bus seat between the bus driver.

The Administrative Rules Review Committee must still approve and adopt the new rules one more time before the rules go into effect. The cost of adding seatbelts is typically around $8,000. Schools will not have to retrofit current busses to include seatbelts.

Mid-Prairie Transportation Director Teresa Hartley was in attendance at the annual Iowa Pupil Transportation Association conference where they staged a bus crash to highlight the difference seat belts can make, “It was pretty neat. It was kind of chilling to walk through the bus. Everyone who wasn’t strapped in with a lap-shoulder belt were on the floor and under seats. When we looked at the results, basically it was six times more likely that the child would have been hurt versus being in a lap-shoulder belt. The ones in the lap-shoulder belt could have been hurt, but not killed. The other ones would have been much worse off.”

Mid-Prairie will add their first bus with lap-shoulder belts this fall after purchasing a 48-passenger diesel bus with a wheelchair lift earlier this summer.