Statewide Iowa — (RI) — The State Board of Education gave preliminary approval Thursday to a change in state rules that would require seatbelts to be installed in all new school buses.

Department of Education transportation director, Max Christensen, told the board the National Transportation Safety Board recommended last May that lap-shoulder belts should be required.

He says they have a group that reviews proposed changes, and they unanimously voted in favor of requiring the belts. Some schools are already requesting them when they get new buses.

Christensen says those districts have found a side benefit to the lap belts along with the safe travel.

Information presented to the board shows the lap-shoulder belts cost around 123 dollars each, and that would add about 84-hundred dollars to the cost of an average new school bus. Christensen says that breaks down to about four-and-a-half cents a day for each student on a bus. There has long been a debate about adding the lap-shoulder belts to school buses — with the thinking that it made it more difficult to get kids out of the bus in an emergency. Christensen says the thought process has changed.

Christensen says another factor is kids now have grown up with seatbelts and are very familiar with their use and how to get out of them. The Board of Education voted to move ahead with the change and there will now be a public hearing on the proposal June 25th at 10:00 a.m. at the board office in Des Moines. You can also send the board written comments and those and the comments at the hearing will be considered when the board takes final vote on the issue.

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