New Mexico Bill Would Require Seat Belts on New School Buses

Sadiah Thompson
Posted on February 5, 2019

State lawmakers introduced a bill that would require all new school buses to come equipped with seat belts and electronic stability control and collision avoidance systems. Photo courtesy Des Moines (Iowa) Public Schools
State lawmakers introduced a bill that would require all new school buses to come equipped with seat belts and electronic stability control and collision avoidance systems. Photo courtesy Des Moines (Iowa) Public Schools
SANTA FE, N.M. — State lawmakers here have introduced legislation that would require seat belts on new school buses, KRWG reports.

House Bill 265, introduced by Rep. Jack Chatfield and Rep. Bill Rehm, would require that all new school buses purchased on or after Jan. 2020 come equipped with seat belts. The buses would also be required to include electronic stability control and collision avoidance systems.

Chatfield told KRWG that since students are expected to wear seat belts in a personal vehicle, the same should apply for when they are riding in school buses. Rep. Rehm added that “automatic braking and traction control will add more safety to school bus travel.”

HB 265 is currently scheduled for review by the House Education Committee, according to the state legislature's website. If the legislation is passed, New Mexico would be joining several other states, including California, Nevada, New York, New Jersey, and Florida, that require seat belts on school buses.

As SBF previously reported in August, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed a law that upgrades the requirement for seat belts on new school buses from lap-only belts to lap-shoulder belts. The legislation was created in response to a school bus crash that killed a teacher and a student in May. The bus was carrying 38 students and seven adults from Paramus Public Schools, and had collided with a dump truck on a highway.

Related Topics: electronic stability control, New Mexico, seat belts

Sadiah Thompson Assistant Editor
Comments ( 2 )
  • Bob Thompson

     | about 7 days ago

    I respectfully disagree! Talk to the school bus drivers and you will hear a different view. Put a bus full of elementary students in seat belts and see what happens if the bus catches fire. How does one bus driver assist 50 (+) panicked children out of their seat belts and out of the bus quickly? From the point of ignition to fully engulfed in flames takes only 3 minutes. How many lives would be lost because the extra time it takes to evacuate (this doesn't even take into account the smoke and fumes from the fire)? This also applies to a bus ending up in a water hazard (river, pond, etc.). In a rollover accident, you now have students suspended, unable to free themselves due to inertia locks and their own weight on the belts. How many internal injuries would be suffered and they are trapped, suspended. (Add water or fire to this and you have a disaster!) The yellow school bus is still the safest form of transportation in this country and has been for several years! If you truly want to make them safer, then make sure the drivers and properly vetted and trained. Of the recent fatal accidents that made national news, there were some drivers unqualified in the buses making poor and, many times, reckless decisions that caused the accidents. For the cost of the seat belts, spend the money for ongoing driver training, proper vetting and pay that matches the tremendous responsibility the drivers shoulder everyday. They are the most valuable tool in student safety!

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