LAKE PLACID, Fla. -- One of the first questions you might have when you hear about any crash is whether or not the people involved were wearing seatbelts.
However, when it comes to school buses, that question is a bit more complicated.
After a semi-tractor trailer crashed into a school bus in Highlands County on Wednesday, we looked into how many school buses even have seat belts.
The bus involved in the Highlands County crash did have seatbelts. A spokesperson with the district said only a few in their fleet don't have safety belts and they're only used as backup.
There's no federal mandate about seat belts and school buses. Florida is one of six states that requires seat belts on newer buses. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says 3-point seat belts should be on every school bus.
NHTSA estimates about four children die every year in school bus crashes. It believes seat belts would reduce deaths by half.
Florida law states that every school bus purchased after the year 2000 must have seat belts.
Most Tampa Bay area districts have buses with seat belts. Here are their responses to our inquiries:
Polk: Our buses are equipped with lap belts.
Manatee: Our entire fleet has regular 2-point lap seat belts. There are three 2-point seat belts per seat to accommodate up to three elementary students. We do not have any 3-point seat belts at the moment as it is not a requirement.
Hillsborough: The majority of our buses have seat belts. As we buy new buses, we are phasing out the older buses.
Pinellas: All buses have seatbelts.
Pasco: Almost all our buses have lap belts.
Sarasota: Our buses have lap seat belts; the buses we are ordering this year will be equipped with three-point seatbelts.
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