MISSOULA – School officials gathered Thursday afternoon in Missoula to discuss school bus safety and the benefits of adding seatbelts to them.
The main speaker of the presentation was Tom Cohn who is the Transportation Manager for the Helena Public Schools district — the first Montana school district to require seat belts on buses.
He says that decision has already saved lives and showed video of a 2017 crash that he says could have been fatal if those students had not been buckled. He added that the problem with buses isn’t that they are unsafe in general, but can be extremely unsafe in the event of a rollover.
“The age old problem with buses is this — anytime a bus turns over, that’s when we start having catastrophic injuries,” Cohen explained. “So the problem is not so much that buses aren’t safe. It’s when they get into a situation where they are out of their element. Number one is a side impact or a rollover is a catastrophic injury for kids on buses.
While safety is the main advantage when installing seat belts into the buses, Cohn says it also helps bus drivers with crowd control.