Wisconsin Department of Transportation

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Seat belts on school buses

Neither Wisconsin nor the federal government requires seat belts on school buses. There is concern that a lap-belt-only type seat belt may be harmful for young children in a crash. In deciding not to require seat belts, the built-in safety features of school buses have been taken into consideration:

  • School buses are designed to take a great deal of impact, not to crush in event of roll over, and to cushion children with compartmentalization between the seats in event of crash or fast stopping.
  • Seat belts are largely intended to prevent ejection from a vehicle. Typically, only children standing in the aisle or the bus driver are at high risk of being ejected from a school bus.

Some school buses have pre-installed three point system seat belts. On these vehicles, all passengers are encouraged to use them.

There is an exception in the child safety seat law when transporting small children in both commercial and school buses, but when possible, correct child restraints are recommended.

  • Smaller school buses often have seat belts because they are used to transport smaller children or children with behavioral or other forms of disabilities.
  • Seat belts can be very helpful in keeping children seated.
  • Children under four should be transported in an approved child restraint, properly installed in the vehicle, if seat belts are present.

Related information:

Questions about the content of this page:
Lt. Karl Mittelstadt, karl.mittelstadt@dot.wi.gov
Last modified: September 3, 2014

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