COLUMBUS (WJW) – Ohio’s new school bus safety task force held its second public meeting on Monday.
It comes nearly five weeks after a deadly school bus crash in Clark County.
“Six students were killed. This school bus was also equipped with numerous recording systems as well as passenger videos. There were not passenger lap belts,” said NTSB expert Kristin Poland during the meeting.
Graphic video and pictures show the wreckage of recent school bus crashes throughout the country: Chattanooga, Tennessee in 2016, Oakland, Iowa in 2017 and Port St. Lucie, Florida in 2012.
“Here you can see the resting position for the school bus as well as the overturned tractor trailer that was carrying a sod,” Poland said.
In the second of five meetings, the Ohio School Bus Safety Working Group meeting in Columbus discussed ways to improve safety on Ohio’s school busses.
Monday’s meeting focused on the history of school bus crashes throughout the country, what caused them and the injuries associated with those crashes.
Poland led the discussions.
“What we’ve seen in a lot of our rollover crashes is that children are thrown inside the bus and in some cases ejected from the bus, so they are at much greater risk for injury. So, ideally the children would be conscious and of course that’s a process for the belts so they can unbuckle even in an inverted position,” she said.
The group also answered questions.
“In all of your studies, have you come across any situations where the presence of seatbelts impeded first response or others from being able to get these kids out in case of a fire or water emergency?” Head of the Department of Public Safety Andy Wilson asked.
“No,” Poland said.
Formed by Governor Mike Dewine, the panel’s first meeting earlier this month focused on school bus driver training and the school bus shortage.
But the major topic now, whether seatbelts should be allowed on school buses, which belts are most effective, shoulder or lap belts, and conversion of belts based on the size of the passenger.
Governor DeWine expected to receive recommendations from the panel before the end of the year.
“Cost shouldn’t be the consideration. It should be what is the safest for the children,” Poland said.