Study: School bus seat belts not cost-effective

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - An intensive three-year study in Alabama has determined it would not be cost-effective to place seat belts on most school buses.

The study was commissioned by Gov. Bob Riley after four students were killed in 2006 when a school bus without seat belts crashed nose-first from an overpass in Huntsville.

That accident also led federal transportation officials to set a new policy, effective in 2011, requiring smaller school buses to be equipped with lap-and-shoulder seat belts. But the Alabama study released Monday found it would cost $11,000 to $15,000 per bus to install belts and that it would save only about one life every eight years in Alabama.

"It can be an emotionally charged issue.  But we realize that if we're to come up with the right answer, we can't let our emotions take control.  What we need -- what our children and parents need -- is an answer based on facts," said Governor Riley.

Study officials said it would be more cost-effective to spend money making the process of loading students on and off the buses safer.

CLICK HERE to read the Pilot Project Report

CLICK HERE to read the Presentation to the Study Group

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. WSFA 12 News contributed to this report. All Rights Reserved.)