Texas is one of five states that have passed legislation regarding three point seatbelts in school buses. Last month, a new law went into effect that requires any new school buses to have three point seatbelts. Unfortunately, there are still many school buses on the road without seatbelts, which could mean the difference between life and death for young student passengers.
In 2007, the Texas legislature passed Ashley and Alicia’s Law which created a program to put seatbelts on school buses, but the law was contingent upon lawmakers finding money for the program. Ashley and Alicia’s Law came after a tragic school bus accident in 2006 that took two lives and injured 20 others.
Unfortunately, by 2015, only four out of 1,300 school districts in Texas received funding to put seatbelts in school buses. The same year, a Houston school bus tragically fell off an overpass, killing two students and injuring numerous others.
Because funding has been an issue for getting seatbelts on school buses, the new law takes aim at manufacturers. All school buses model 2018 or later will be required to have three-point seatbelts for passengers. This includes buses chartered by school districts. Because many school districts purchase new buses every year, this will ensure safer buses are working their way into school transportation fleets.
However, the new seatbelt bill isn’t perfect. The cost of a new school bus will increase because manufacturers now have to include seatbelts. While some school districts may struggle to accommodate the higher cost of new school buses, others won’t be able to afford any new school buses at all.
The new legislation doesn’t require retrofitting older school buses with seatbelts, meaning tens of thousands of school buses will remain on the road without seatbelts. Seatbelts save lives regardless of the vehicle they are in. School buses that do not have three point seatbelts are dangerous to the students that ride them.