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December 17, 2013  |   Comments (6)   |   Post a comment

4 school bus seat belt bills under review in Massachusetts

By Thomas McMahon

Several state legislators are renewing efforts to require seat belts in large school buses in Massachusetts. Pictured is the State House.Photo by Eric Baetscher

Several state legislators are renewing efforts to require seat belts in large school buses in Massachusetts. Pictured is the State House.
Photo by Eric Baetscher

BOSTON — Several state legislators are renewing efforts to require seat belts in large school buses in Massachusetts.

Four bills are currently under consideration in the state Legislature. All of them have been referred to the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security.

The text of three of the bills (H.2172, H.2154 and S.1147) is essentially the same. Two years after going into effect, the legislation would require school buses to be equipped with lap-shoulder belts, and it would require all children riding school buses to buckle up.

Those three bills include a provision to protect the school bus driver from liability: “No claim for damages shall arise from the failure of a school bus operator to ensure that a passenger of a school bus was wearing the restraint system.”

The fourth bill (H.2122) is shorter on details. It simply states that all newly manufactured school buses seating more than 16 students “shall be equipped with passenger restraint systems that meet the minimum requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 222.”

The seat belt proposals had a committee hearing on Thursday. According to the Telegram & Gazette, they got little support.

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Read more about: Massachusetts, seat belts

I agree with you Annoyed. People are not looking at that side of getting the children out alive. You have 2 mins to evacuate 65 children can one driver do that if they were all seat belted in? Seat belts in buses are dangerous! Please do your research..

Joanne    |    Dec 23, 2013 08:23 AM

Annoyed, you took the words right out of my mouth. Well said.

Anonymous    |    Dec 20, 2013 11:16 AM

Cost of belts has never been the issue. This subject has been studied over and over again with the same conclusion; seatbelts on large school buses would have minimal impact on saving lives, and might actually increase the number of fatalities annually due to onboard fires/submersion, etc. as an earlier post commented. Our industry is all about safety, and the statistics bear this up. Legislators really need to engage industry officials and "come along for the ride" before making any legislative decisions. Then and only then will they have a better idea of what they are trying to make decisions on that affect the public, and specifically the children we transport.

Bill Glucksman    |    Dec 19, 2013 10:45 AM

Much of the above statement is true and also the fact is that if Shoulder or Lap Belts are installed that cuts the bus capacity by one third meaning that Districts will have to have More Buses or Double Route Buses, this is not a bad thing for the Company's that Sell Buses but my observation now is the Transportation Departments in School Systems are not getting Money to buy Buses now and this Burden will further stress already stressed School Systems and dig deeper into the Taxpayer's Pockets. A lot of places I go It's nothing to spend Half A Million on a football field or build a new Baseball Field or go on numerous Field Trips but there is never enough Money to purchase Buses that are needed to get Kids to school every Day! What's wrong with this picture is the Politics that are running these School Systems.

Working Dad    |    Dec 18, 2013 11:59 AM

When the government tries to legislate choices, it can result in inefficiencies and a failure to achieve the goals. Seatbelts should be a choice, not a law. I choose to wear seatbelts on buses, and I want that choice. I don't want the government to tell school bus companies that they must provide seatbelts on all new buses, because that is an excuse to not buy new buses. I don't want the government to tell schoolbus passengers that they must wear seatbelts, unless they are over a certain age or have a letter from a parent or are in some special category that exempts them from the new law. I do want the cost of seatbelt systems and better bus seats to decrease, so that the choice to buy and install the upgraded seats on all buses becomes more economical. If the cost continues to decrease, seatbelts should eventually become standard equipment, but that may not happen if the government bureaucrats try to force the normal progression of technology in an economy that isn't receptive of government-induced price increases for bus purchases.

Alexander Rogge    |    Dec 18, 2013 10:16 AM

Seatbelts in busses are dangerous period. People need to look at 2 things, 1 is obvious 1 not so much. First, statistically how many kids are killed in bus accidents annually that would have been saved by a seatbelt (thats comsidering that it would have actually been used). Then how many bus fires are there per year vs deadly accidents, then how many busses end up in deep water through crashes or flash floods. Now figure how many kids would be stuck in their seatbelts underwater or in a fire. 65+ kids in a fire would be too many to help by 1 driver in an emergency is strapped in. There are alot of bus fires every year. Second thing that really needs to be considered is the source of this push for seatbelts. It, like stop arm cameras, red light cams, prevail (fireblock) seat covers is being pushed and lobbied for by the manufacturers of these products and seats. It has nothing to do with safety. Its a money maker and thats the real underlying factor pushing this. It doesnt increase safety just like recording someone running your loading lights. They still ran them so how exactly does it make anything safer? Its usually not intentional when someone runs them and many bus drivers timing to turn from amber to red is equally to blame. Just like red light cams, data clearly show accidents increase at intersections with them yet we continue to install them, why? Because the companies that make them get paid for each ticket and lobby for them. I just wish some people would open their eyes, school busses are going to be $200k soon and no safer than they were 30 years ago.

Annoyed    |    Dec 17, 2013 06:31 PM

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