A Sunday report from the Advertiser is leaving lingering questions as to why seat belts are not required on those vehicles that transport some of our society's most precious cargo.

The federal government leaves to individual states the decision to require seat belts on school buses, the Advertiser reported. Louisiana passed such a law in 1999, but it only goes into effect if the state provides funding to local school districts. The state has yet to do that.

School buses are exempt from a November ruling for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that requires lap and shoulder seat belts for each passenger and driver on motorcoaches and other large buses. But according to the Advertiser report, that ruling does not extend to transit buses and school buses.

The NHTSA ruling said the additional safety measure could reduce fatalities by up to 44 percent and reduce to 45 percent the number of moderate to severe injuries.

The federal government leaves to individual states the decision to require seat belts on school buses, the Advertiser reported. Louisiana passed such a law in 1999, but it only goes into effect if the state provides funding to local school districts.

The state has yet to do that.

Lafayette Parish School System Transportation Director Damon Evans told the Advertiser that it would cost the system $1.8 million to add lap belts to the system's 300 buses. Doing that would also reduce the number of passengers the buses could accomodate, which would probably require more buses, Evans said.

According to the Advertiser, it would cost $1,500 to $2,000 per bus to add seat belts to newly produced buses. It would cost $8,000 to $15,000 each to add seat belts to all current buses.

Four people were killed in a crash involving a Lafayette Parish School bus and an SUV when they were ejected from their vehicle. The lone survivor in the SUV was the only one wearing a seat belt. Most of the passengers on the school bus--30 Lafayette High School baseball players and five coaches--suffered relatively minor injuries.