Durham Public Schools part of bus seat belt pilot program

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Durham Public Schools part of bus seat belt pilot program (WTVD)

Students riding on nine Durham public school buses will use seat belts this year.

Students attending Holt Elementary are already using them and others will start riding on the other buses with seat belts when traditional calendar classes start Monday.

"I feel safer," said student Yolanda Monique Bridges.

Durham is one of 13 counties testing out the seat belts as part of a pilot program for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. About 196 school buses in the state are trying them.

Counties in the state testing seat belts on school buses



"Students are seated and facing forward," said Scott Denton, Assistant Superintendent of Auxiliary Services of Durham Public Schools. "They're going to be in a safer position should there be a crash, should there be a problem on the bus."

Denton said each seat can hold up to three students with seat belts.

"But these are also able to be used with high school students and middle school students that are larger and so they only use a two-seating position," Denton said.

Every bus in Durham Public Schools already has two cameras in the front and officials say the seat belts are just another way to boost safety.

"I think this will be one of the major components that allows the drivers to have their focus on the road and have order on their bus," Denton said, adding that students will be buckled in and less likely to behave badly.

Denton said NC State is studying footage of students with and without the seat belts, seeing if it impacts the way they act.

All 249 buses in Durham Public Schools could be outfitted with them. But the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction said it'd cost $6,000 to 7,000 more per bus.

"Funding is an issue," Denton said. "We have to work with our General Assembly hopefully to appropriate additional funding for seat belts."

A spokeswoman for the Wake County Public School System said the district is not planning to use seat belts in buses.

Here is a list of all the counties in the state testing seat belts in school buses, according to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:

Burke

Carteret

Durham

Guilford

Henderson

Jackson

New Hanover

Person

Rowan

Rutherford

Surry

Transylvania

Washington

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