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Could Arizona school districts retrofit buses with seat belts?

The Phoenix Union High School District has taken safety steps for its students. 38 of its 50 buses are equipped with seat belts. (KTAR Photo/Mike Sackley)

Will Arizona’s school districts front the cost for seat belts on school buses?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that all school buses across the country should be equipped with three-point safety belts. Six states have a law that require seat belts in school buses.

Arizona is not one of them, but the Phoenix Union High School District has already taken safety steps for its students. Thirty-eight of its 50 buses are equipped with seat belts.

“We’re so used to getting in a car and clicking on our seat belt,” said district spokesman Craig Pletenik. “How do you tell a young child that as soon as they go to school, they get on a school bus and they don’t have to use a seat belt?”

Pletenik said many of the students transported within the district are special needs students but said all students would benefit from safety belts. He acknowledged that there can be a drawback to adding seat belts in buses.

“Seat belts can also serve as a danger,” Pletenik said. “Kids will use them, and they’ll smack other kids with them.”

Costs could be a problem for larger school districts that do not have safety belts on their buses. Pletenik said it could cost between $5,000 and $6,000 to retrofit each bus with safety belts.

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