Should Hawaii School Buses Have Seatbelts? - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Should Hawaii School Buses Have Seatbelts?

Janessa Orme Janessa Orme
Makana Whitford Makana Whitford
Karen Dunai Karen Dunai
Sabrina Clark Sabrina Clark

By Beth Hillyer

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- Citing the recent Kahuku bus crash, parents and concerned citizens testifying before lawmakers are demanding seat belts be installed in new island school buses.

Nationwide traffic statistics reveal on average about 11 kids are killed in school bus crashes each year and countless others injured.

Last week, when a bus flipped over along Kamehameha Highway and tumbled into Waikane stream. The Kahuku high school students were tossed around like rag dolls.

"When I was in the air I was like this is going to hurt so bad when I land. Oh my gosh, I can't believe this is actually happening," recalled Janessa Orme.

The survivors feel lucky to be alive.

"I'm just glad that all you guys are OK it could have been a lot worse," said Kahuku Head Coach Makana Whitford.

In rollover crashes such as the one in Kahuku and actual crashes that have occurred on the mainland, kids who aren't belted in are injured when they collide with the roof and seats.

Crash tests illustrate the importance of seatbelts. Supporters of a resolution are demanding that any new school buses leased by the state be equipped with seat belts.

"Without the seatbelts to help hold them in when there is a rollover or side impact crash their necks get broken, their skulls get crushed the chances of death are so high," said seatbelt supporter Sabrina Clark.

"God forbid something would happen, I would have to say, you folks would kind of be responsible, it's on your laps to move it forward," said seatbelt supporter Karen Dunai.

"It's an urging from us as parents, a mother of three children, I would like to see seatbelts on school buses," said Carleen Damon, a parent.

"I saw her heading for the cars, slammed on her breaks, saw her hit the tree and I just saw the bus flipping over. And it was the scariest thing ever," recalled Orme.

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