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School bus crash renews push for seat belts

Posted at 5:33 PM, Jan 14, 2016
Nineteen students that were hospitalized after three school buses collided in Streetsboro are expected to be okay. Now, some are calling on school districts to install seat belts on school buses to prevent those kinds of injuries.
 
Streetsboro police said the drivers were Sherrill Shaffer, Petrina Twigger and Wande Templeton. Templeton was driving the bus that caused the initial crash. Cameras located on board those buses will play a critical role in finding out what happened.
 
“Frankly, in most crashes, we don’t get to see what happens,” Streetsboro Police Chief Darin Powers said. "Most crashes, we investigate cars that do the same thing. They run into each other, but most cars don’t have video, so having video from the bus is an added bonus for us.”
 
 
An investigation could take several days. The buses had cameras, but no seatbelts. Chief Powers, who spent time as a traffic crash investigator before becoming chief, said that should change.
 
"I’m required to wear it when I’m driving, but for our kids not to have it, I think it’s a misjustice for our kids not to have seatbelts,” Powers said.
 
But others with school transportation experience disagree, including Pete Japinske with the Ohio School Board Association, who told me via email, "Repeated studies by numerous agencies have shown that the high back seats, seat spacing, and limited opening of the windows serve well as a passive system to contain students inside a compartment.”
 
He added that the cost, estimated between $7,000 and $10,000 extra for new buses, would outweigh the benefit, since statistically students riding in school buses are less likely to be injured in traffic.
 
Wednesday’s chain reaction crash sent 16-year-old Streetsboro High School student Holden Pullman’s face into the seat back in front of him.
 
“When the bus hit, I flew forward and my teeth and my neck were hit on the front of the seat and I was protecting my mouth and it was bleeding,” Pullman said.
 
Chief Powers said a seat belt could have prevented that kind of injury.
 
“They did have bloody noses, bloody lips. They’re hitting their face on the seat in front of them,” Chief Powers said. "It’s obviously not enough."
 

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