School Bus Crash Footage of Kids Being Thrown Around Sparks Debate About Seat Belts
The terrifying crash involving a Ford Mustang occurred in December of last year
Newly released video from a terrifying bus crash in Ohio that sent multiple students to the hospital has sparked a conversation about the absence of seat belts on the heavily used vehicles.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol released footage this week from a harrowing accident from last year involving a school bus filled with 25 students and a 1996 Ford Mustang.
On Dec. 19, the Mustang’s 42-year-old driver allegedly ran a red light and collided with the bus. The impact sent the bus off the road, where it landed on its side, according to a police report obtained by PEOPLE.
“There were scratches on the roadway showing where the school bus overturned onto its side and slid off the side of the roadway, striking a guard rail before it came to final rest,” the report states. “The Ford Mustang followed the same path as the school bus and came to final rest into the guard raise facing westbound.”
Footage from the collision shows children slamming against the roof of the bus and screaming for help. During the chaos, the 74-year-old bus driver — who was restrained by a seat belt — directed students to leave the vehicle through an emergency exit or window.
With more than 25 million students riding in school buses every year, per the NCSL, the accident has brought into question why more states don’t require passengers to wear seat belts on buses. Dr. Rudy Breglia, a local resident and advocate for seat belts on buses, told WCMH that the accident represents a need for the safety devices.
“[The bus driver] popped out of that seatbelt, stood up, was alert and aware,” she told the outlet. “He directed the children to give them advice on how to escape and that’s exactly what would happen with the children if they had seatbelts. They’d be maybe a little shaken up, but they’d be aware and they would be uninjured.”
But the bus driver, Danny Hupp, disputed the necessity for seat belts.
“Can you imagine if there were 30 kids hanging upside down and I had to go around and unhook every one of them?” Hupp told WSYX. “That’s why there’s no seat belts on buses.”
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As of January 2020, only eight states require them on large buses: California, Nevada, Texas, Louisiana, Florida, New York, Arkansas and New Jersey.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, seat belts don’t offer an advantage on school buses because they are designed to be safer than passenger vehicles in preventing crashes and injuries. They are also heavily regulated, officials said.
“School buses are designed so that they’re highly visible and include safety features such as flashing red lights, cross-view mirrors and stop-sign arms,” a report on bus safety by the NHTSA reads. “They also include protective seating, high crush standards and rollover protection features.”
“Large school buses are heavier and distribute crash forces differently than passenger cars and light trucks do,” the organization adds. “Because of these differences, bus passengers experience much less crash force than those in passenger cars, light trucks and vans.”
Students are about 70 times more likely to safely arrive at school by bus than by traveling by car, according to the NHTSA. The greatest danger, they say, is when a student is approaching or leaving a bus.
In the December Ohio bus crash, the bus driver and eight students were hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries, WCMH reported.
The driver of the Mustang was taken to a separate hospital with serious injuries, including a broken back, according to the police report.
- With reporting by Nick Maslow