Adding buses with seat belts a first for Henrico County Public Schools, state

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HCPS School Buses

Henrico County Public Schools is the first school division in Virginia to add buses with seat belts for general student use.

Henrico Schools has added some school buses with seat belts for general student use, a first in Virginia. Buses with 3-point shoulder-and-lap belts were purchased to replace older buses. The addition to the fleet includes 22 buses for general student use and two for students in the division’s exceptional education program.

The buses began transporting students at 48 schools this month. The HCPS Department of Pupil Transportation has been making the buses available around the county so that students and families can hop aboard and try out the belts. Henrico Schools’ bus drivers have received training in the belts’ operation, so they can make sure students understand how they work.

Director of HCPS Transportation Josh Davis

Josh Davis, Henrico County Public Schools’ director of pupil transportation, demonstrates a seat belt on a new school bus. The school division is the first in Virginia to add buses with seat belts for general student use.

“Our school buses are already extremely safe, due to the compartmentalization provided by the strong, heavily padded seats that are near each other,” said Josh Davis, the school division’s director of pupil transportation. “These seat belts will provide an extra level of protection.”

Each seat contains three seat belts that can be used by smaller children. Larger children can sit two abreast, using two of the belts. Use of the seat belts is encouraged, but won’t be mandatory.

Henrico Schools’ bus fleet contains more than 600 buses. As older buses age out of use, they will be replaced by new ones, equipped with seat belts.

Current Virginia laws requiring minors to use seat belts in passenger cars do not apply to school buses. The 2017 General Assembly considered a bill requiring seat belts on new school buses, with a goal of all buses in the commonwealth having seat belts by 2027, but the bill did not become law.

While this is a first among Virginia school divisions for traditional school buses, others, including Henrico, have previously used seat belts on buses used to transport exceptional education students. HCPS buses built since 2008 used for exceptional education have had 2-point lap belts, either in all the seats or in the first four rows of seats. Additionally, some students have Individualized Education Plans, or IEPs, that specify the use of seat belts.

More information about Henrico Schools’ seat belt program can be found by going to henricoschools.us and clicking on “Transportation.”