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New Mexico Legislator Calls for School Bus Seatbelts After Horrific Crash

Recently released video showing a car crashing into a school bus that sent students flying has renewed at least one legislator's call for seatbelts on school buses. In February, a driver in a Ford Mustang slammed into the side of a school bus full of children in Albuquerque while driving over 100 mph. According to KRQE, seven of the 23 students onboard and the bus driver were sent to hospital for injuries -- including a pelvic fracture and femur fracture. State Rep. Bill Rehm co-sponsored a bill in 2019 that would have required seatbelts on buses, according to WKOB. The bill made it through the State House before dying in the Senate Education Committee. Rehm believes the children would have been better off after the crash had they been wearing seatbelts. He sent an email to members of the Senate committee, asking them to reconsider the seatbelt proposal during the next legislative session.

 

 

U.S. Legislators Call for Additional Zero-Emissions School Bus Funding

A group of U.S. representatives penned a letter to the Senate and House appropriations committees this week, requesting at least another $300 million in the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill to fund the purchase of zero-emissions school buses and charging infrastructure. The $5-billion Clean School Bus Program, authorized in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law signed last fall, is meant to help school districts across the country fund electric school buses and charging infrastructure. Half of the funding is dedicated solely to zero-emission buses, while the other half is dedicated to both zero-emission and alternative fuel buses. The letter calls the program a "down payment to start electrifying" the nation's school bus fleet, saying it "only scratches the surface" of what's needed to transition to zero-emission buses and improve the health of more than 20 million students who rely on school bus transportation. The letter comes a week after several lawmakers reintroduced the "Clean Commute for Kids Act," which would authorize $25 billion over 10 years to replace existing diesel school buses with electric school buses.

Advocates for Kids With Disabilities Call for Safety Provisions in Colorado Rideshare Transportation Bill

A Senate bill in the Colorado legislature seeks to make changes to rideshare companies' school transportation capabilities. According to a Colorado Politics article, the bill allows rideshare companies to contract with a school or any other political subdivision of the state and puts them under a regulatory framework that applies to similar transportation companies. The bill also requires contracts to include safety provisions for transporting students. Supporters of the bill say it's needed to give schools more transportation options. Advocates for children with disabilities say they are frustrated with the proposal, aruging it doesn't include enough provisions to ensure childrens' safety. Further complicating the issue is a set of regulations for ridesharing entities. The Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has legislative authority over the rideshare companies, but the commission doesn't deal with the transportation of minors. The Colorado Department of Education does, and it must adhere to strict federal requirements for student transportation. Federal law also dictates that schools must provide transportation for children with disabilities, another area in which the PUC has no experience. A recent decision by the PUC determined the education department has the authority to regulate transportation for students.The department of education has regulations that require drivers, including those who operate private vehicles, to have up-to-date first aid training. The rules also require training on the proper use and maintenance of Child Safety Restraint Systems and wheelchair securement. None of that is covered under existing PUC regulations that apply to rideshares. The Senate bill doesn't direct the PUC to create those rules. Under the bill, a rideshare's contract with a school would include specific provisions for student passenger safety -- as determined by the school or school district. Advocates say that's not enough and are calling for the education department to handle all school transportation. A House committee recently approved the bill, which now goes to the full House, without the provisions advocates are calling for.

Initiative to Require Ontario School Buses to Update Amber-Red Warning System

The Government of Ontario is requiring all school buses to have an eight-lamp amber-red warning system in time for the 2022-23 school year. Ontario is the only jurisdiction in North America to still use an all-red light system on school buses, according to a Sudbury.com article. The school bus operator activates the amber signals when approaching a stop to give drivers clear advanced notice the bus is slowing down to let a student on or off. Transport Canada recommended all provinces use the system after findings showed the lights were 11% more effective than systems with all-red overhead lights in reducing the speed of approaching vehicles. School bus operators will have access to more than $4 million in one-time grants to help offset the costs for retrofitting the school buses with the warning system.

School Bus Bumper Color Rule Could Take Nearly 800 Propane-Powered School Buses Off Quebec Roads

A labor dispute between Quebec's automobile insurance board and its roadside inspectors could take hundreds of school buses off Quebec roads because they have green bumpers. Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) regulations require that school buses be fitted with black or grey bumpers, except for electric ones that are required to use blue ones. The colors allow first reponders to quickly identify what type of vehicle they are dealing with in the event of an accident. While green has not been authorized as the official bumper color for propane, manufacturers in Quebec have been using it for several years. The CBC reports the province's school bus federation has been flooded with calls from anxious operators of propane-powered buses with green bumpers who have been stopped by traffic inspectors ever since they began targeting their buses earlier this month. Now, about a dozen of them have been impounded by roadside inspectors because of it. The CBC reports members of the school bus manufacturing industry have requested for green bumpers to be allowed for several years, but their requests have been ignored.

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