Connecticut state Rep. Fred Camillo gave testimony in support of a proposed school bus seat belt mandate in a public hearing last week.

Connecticut state Rep. Fred Camillo gave testimony in support of a proposed school bus seat belt mandate in a public hearing last week.

HARTFORD, Conn. — Lap-shoulder belts would be mandated on new school buses in Connecticut under a newly introduced bill.

The legislation, HB 5462, would apply to school buses starting in model year 2021.

As the bill is written, it would only require the three-point restraints on new school buses, although sponsor Rep. Fred Camillo said that he also would like for older buses to be retrofitted.

“While we can’t legislate a 100% foolproof safety mechanism, we do have it within our powers to do all we can to decrease the chances of tragedies,” Camillo said.

The legislation would require passengers on belt-equipped school buses to buckle up. Also, school districts would have to provide parents of school bus riders with written notice about the availability and proper use of the lap-shoulder belts, and the districts would have to instruct students on the proper use, fastening and unfastening of the belts.

A provision in the bill stipulates that school districts, contractors and school bus operators wouldn’t be held liable for “injury resulting solely from a student's use, misuse or failure to use a seat safety belt installed on a school bus.”

The bill has been referred to the Connecticut General Assembly’s joint transportation committee. Camillo gave testimony in support of the bill in a public hearing last week.

In 2010, Connecticut passed a bill that reduced the sales tax on school buses equipped with three-point belts but did not make them mandatory. Earlier that year, a Rocky Hill High School student had been killed in a school bus crash.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is now advocating three-point belts for all school buses. The agency has scheduled a March 24 meeting in which representatives from the six states that have passed school bus seat belt legislation will share their experiences.

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