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

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.

About the author
Thomas McMahon

Thomas McMahon

Executive Editor

Thomas had covered the pupil transportation industry with School Bus Fleet since 2002. When he's not writing articles about yellow buses, he enjoys running long distances and making a joyful noise with his guitar.

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