By: WCTV Eyewitness News
November 22, 2016
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) – A deadly school bus crash in Chattanooga on Monday has parents asking questions regarding school bus safety regulations in our area.
Many parents are surprised to learn that seat belts on school buses are not required by federal law. That decision is left up to the individual states.
Six states, including Florida, do require seat belts to be installed on buses. Georgia does not require them.
Currently, California is the only state that meets the seat belt standards set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
According to a spokeswoman with the Florida Department of Education, although Florida law requires all new school buses purchased after December 31, 2000, to have seat belts, it does not require districts to retrofit their existing fleet.
We asked the divisional director of transportation for Leon County Schools about the district's fleet and he says all of the LCS buses have seat belts. Students are encouraged to use them, but not required to buckle up.
He also says all of LCS natural gas fueled buses have a GPS that can track the location and speed of the buses.
Beyond the seat belt concerns, the deadly crash also raises questions about bus driver screening.
In Florida and Georgia, all school bus drivers are subject to random drug and alcohol testing, which is required by state law.
The Georgia Department of Education says post-accident drug screening for bus drivers is also required.