When two vehicles crash, people pay attention, but when a school bus full of children is involved in an accident, everyone pays attention. And that’s because the safety of our children, especially when someone other than us is driving them, is paramount. That’s why one of America’s most populated states is trying to break the trend of not equipping school buses with seat belts.
After a Houston school bus fell off an overpass in 2015, killing two students, a senator from that district decided it was time for a new state law requiring all new school buses to have three-point safety belts, according to the Texas Tribune. A three-point safety belt includes a lap belt and a shoulder belt.
An earlier version of the measure was authored after a 2006 crash, where a state trooper testified that he believed seat belts would have prevented the deaths and severe injuries of the students onboard.
The father of one of the badly injured students stated at the time that, “If you can afford to build new stadiums, if you can afford digital scoreboards, then you can afford the protection that our children deserve.”
Many people don’t have a problem with equipping buses with the same safety devices every car has, but an additional cost of up to $10,000 per bus has put them out of many districts’ reach. However, the bill’s author, Sylvia Garcia, said the districts could defer the costs by buying fewer new buses, according to Texas Hill Country. Old buses are not required to be retrofitted with seat belts.
While some districts already require seat belts on buses, the new law passed now requires all new school buses to have them statewide. The new law starts this month. Not everyone has supported the law in its different incarnations over the past decade, though.
Another senator felt that padded seats were enough to protect children in a crash and that having all the kids strapped in during a perilous accident could make it harder for them to escape. A school superintendent also argued that there could be liability issues if a school bus driver can’t keep every one of their passengers belted in for the entirety of every ride.
“Think about a parent making sure you have two kids strapped into your car. Multiply that by another horde of kids,” pointed out Temple Independent School District superintendent Robin Battershell.
Arkansas, California, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, and Texas have passed at least some version of a seat belt requirement for school buses, but funding has often made enforcement a major issue, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
What do you think of this? In other news, a well-known Hollywood couple has just ended their marriage after eight years.