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Rep. Phelan files bill to require seatbelts in School Buses

Special to The Leader

AUSTIN, TEXAS – State Representative Dade Phelan has filed House Bill 1188 requiring newly purchased school buses to be equipped with three-point seat belts. A bus operated by or contracted for use by a school district for the transportation of schoolchildren shall be equipped with a three-point seat belt for each passenger, including the operator. This legislation does not apply to buses purchased before September 1, 2017.

In 2015, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reversed their policy and stated that newly purchased school buses should have a three-point seat belt system. The National Transportation Safety Board recommendation comes after investigating crashes in which children were injured or killed. These are typically side-impact or high-speed rollovers where compartmentalization wasn’t enough to protect the passengers. Over the last decade, an average of five school-age children a year have died on school buses, and many more were severely injured. In 2006, the tragic crash of a bus carrying the West Brook High School girls soccer team killed two students and injured twenty-one others. This past September in Houston, two children died, and many others were injured in another rollover crash. Again, there were no seat belts provided.

“Seat belts are life-saving devices that should be available for the 1.5 million children who ride a bus to and from school each day.” Representative Phelan continued, “HB 1188 will protect our children, prevent injuries, and demonstrate that the state of Texas is serious about safety.”