BRISTOL, Tenn. — In nearly six decades in the school bus business, Kenny Morrell has not become a fan of seat belts on buses.
And some heavy-hitting national transportation officials and academic studies agree.
As Morrell prepares to give up 40 routes his Holston Bus Co. operates for Sullivan County schools but keep 17 he operates for Bristol, Tenn., schools, he said he is not convinced seat belts should be mandatory on buses.
Kingsport City Schools is one of the few systems in the region that has seat belts on all its buses, which Transportation Director Ken Barnes said has been the case since at least 2001.
Ray Robinson of the Tennessee Department of Safety said in an email to Barnes he is “not aware of anyone else who has belts on all buses or at least I cannot recall any others at this time.”
A recent rash of bus accidents, two in the Sullivan County community of Bloomingdale, one in Scott County, Va., one in Bristol, Tenn., and one in Unicoi County, has spurred discussion of school bus seat belts. So did a September 2012 school bus crash in Washington County, Tenn., that injured 26 students, some critically.
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