School bus crashes has some asking about seat belts

(KWCH/WIBW) -- A Wednesday morning bus crash left more than a dozen Wichita students hurt.

The Kansas Highway Patrol says the bus driver lost control, slid off the road and rolled into the ditch near Emporia. The school district says students from Park Elementary School were heading to Topeka for a field trip.

Students were not hurt in another crash on Auburn Road Wednesday morning.

After the crashes, viewers reached out on Facebook asking why school buses don't have seat belts.

Collins Bus Corporation in South Hutchinson makes buses for school districts all across the country.

Chris Charlton, who works for the company, says not all states require seat belts on buses According to the National Conference of State Legislators, eight states require seat belts on large buses, Kansas is not one of them.

In 2017, Kansas lawmakers looked at whether to require school districts to buy buses with seat belts when replacing their fleet. At that time, adding seatbelts would cost about $10,000 per bus. The bill failed to pass as school districts said they didn't have the money to pay for it.

Charlton says, if the state doesn't require seat belts, it's up to each school district to have them installed.

"Here at Collins Bus, we build all our buses custom by state spec and what the school district wants, so, for example, the state of Kansas doesn't mandate seat belts, but what they will do is it's up to the school district themselves to whether they want seat belts or not," he said.

Overall, only minor injuries were reported for the 17 kids who were taken to the hospital. Those who weren't hurt were taken to Emporia High School to be picked up.

Parents say they're just glad their children are okay.