“If that child had a seat belt, I guarantee you that child would have stayed with that school bus and might have survived,” said Rudy Breglia, founder of the School Bus Seat Belt Safety Alliance in Avon Lake.
For over seven years, Breglia has advocated for the requirement of lap-shoulder seat belts in school buses in Ohio.
“There are nine states that have regulations concerning seatbelts. Ohio is not among them,” said Breglia.
So why not? Information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that “less than 1% of all traffic fatalities involve children on school buses.”
The government agency goes on to say that “children are protected through a concept called ‘compartmentalization’ — closely-spaced seats that have energy-absorbing seat backs.”
Despite this, several northeast Ohio schools became the first in the state to add seat belts to their buses several years ago.
“Pilot programs have been done and continue in Hudson and Beachwood. Avon Lake started and then stopped for some reason, I’m not sure why,” said Breglia.
According to the Avon Lake School District, they are no longer participating in the pilot program due to cost concerns as well as a school bus driver shortage.
However, they add they’ve installed electric stability controls on their school buses that can detect when a bus is unstable and help correct the path before a rollover occurs.
“I don’t deny that, but they can be made safer if they had seat belts,” said Breglia.
Breglia said he is also working with the Lorain County Commissioner’s Office on a resolution in support of seat belts as well.