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NTSB calling on all states to require seat belts on school buses

Most states, including Oregon and Washington, do not require seat belts in large school buses.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Video captured the horrifying moment a school bus in Ohio packed with students flipped onto its side, but incredibly no one was seriously hurt. Officials say the bus overturned after another vehicle ran a red light and hit it.

The National Transportation Safety Board is now calling on all states to require three-point seat belts on new school buses. 

Most states, including Ohio, Washington and Oregon do not require seat belts in large school buses. In fact, they are only mandatory in eight states.

"We've got to keep the students properly restrained in the event that there's a crash and lap-shoulder belts are the most effective means of protecting our children,” explained NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt.

Oregon has had its fair share of school bus crashes. In November 2019, the Washington County Sheriff's Office released video showing the inside of a school bus as it veered off the road and into a ditch south of Forest Grove. Deputies said the bus driver was under the influence, but the district attorney’s office decided not to press charges. Before that, another school bus driver in Longview was arrested for driving drunk.

RELATED: Watch: Driver crashes school bus near Forest Grove

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said school buses are the most regulated vehicles on the road, but said seat belts are not required because buses are designed to withstand impact, unlike cars. For example, school buses have energy absorbing padded seats that are close together.

Then there is the concern that if the bus had to be evacuated in an emergency, such as a fire, panicked students might be trapped by their belts.

Now after images from this latest school bus crash there is a renewed push for three point seat belts for students.

"We're about dumbfounded as to why districts are not requiring this,” Sumwalt said. “Certainly there is an increased cost, but when it comes to the safety of our children, what is a few more dollars?"

A company that manufactures seat belts for buses said it would cost about $7-10,000 per bus to add seat belts, so that cost could be part of the reason school districts have not done that.

RELATED: Child calls 911 to report drunk bus driver in Longview, Wash.