Proposal would require safety belts in school buses
A legislator from the only school district in the state to have school bus seat belts wants to make it state law. Janesville state Sen. Tim Cullen (D) is proposing a bill that would require all new school buses be equipped with lap and shoulder b...
A legislator from the only school district in the state to have school bus seat belts wants to make it state law.
Janesville state Sen. Tim Cullen (D) is proposing a bill that would require all new school buses be equipped with lap and shoulder belts. Existing buses would not need retrofitting, but there is incentive to do so through state grants. Cullen notes current law requires young children to be in car safety or booster seats. However, when kids get old enough for school they ride on buses without restraint, even though the driver is buckled up: "All drivers have to wear a seat belt. It's beyond me why nobody else has to."
Several bus companies testified against the bill at a public hearing. Jim Fey, president of the Wisconsin School Bus Association, said federal safety regulations don't require seat belts. One reason, Fey says, is because the high padded seats provide protection. "It is because of this system and the other federal safety standards unique to school buses that school bus transportation is safer by all statistical measures than all any other form of transportation."
Kevin Murray, however, is a paramedic in the Janesville School District -- where they use school bus seat belts -- and says they would provide increased safety in side crashes or rollovers: "Just imagine your children, your grandchildren, projectiles in this giant compartment rolling around. That is something I don't want to see happen."
Current Wisconsin law requires that buses under five tons have seat belts. This includes the smaller buses used to transport students with special needs.