Montgomery County students will be asked to buckle up as they ride to school when the county's next shipment of new school buses arrives.
The county Board of Education voted unanimously yesterday to have seat belts installed on 53 school buses scheduled to go into operation next fall. The installation will include reinforcing the seat frames of the buses. The school system operates 755 buses.
Last February, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted to spend $100,000 to install seat belts on as many as 87 new school buses. Officials there also characterized the seat belt installation as a trial.
Montgomery school officials said bus drivers would attempt to make sure students use the belts, but will depend on parents, teachers, posters in buses and safety lectures to persuade them to do so.
The school board voted in February to set aside $74,000 for seat belts, but delayed ordering their installation while school officials studied the medical literature on the subject.
After the study, the staff reported that literature on school bus seat belts was inconclusive. Some experts believed seat belts would save lives. Others argued that, improperly used, a lap-type seat belt could be more dangerous for a young child than no seat belt at all.