US to pay for seatbelts on school buses

Filed under: Big Kids, Day Care & Education

When I woke up this morning, I glanced out my bedroom window and was shocked to see snow swirling in the sky. Watching the big, fat flakes piling up on the window sill, my first thought was, "cool!" My second thought was "crap, Ellie has to ride the school bus in the snow."

It took a lot to convince my husband that riding the bus was a good idea and that Ellie would be safe. The recent incident with the bully did not help matters one bit. That boy, by the way, was disciplined at school and now ignores Ellie completely. So, while she is safe from bullies for now, I do still have concerns when she's riding that big yellow bus.

I am not the only one concerned about safety on the school bus. Yesterday, Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters took a ride on a school bus before announcing a new proposal that has the potential to increase bus safety. If adopted, the proposal would do several things:
  • Increase the height of seat backs on all school buses from 20 inches to 24 inches to help protect older children and adults from being thrown over the seats during accidents. This requirement would go into effect in one year and would apply to new school buses only.
  • Require all new short school buses - the style more prone to rollover accidents than longer buses - to begin using shoulder straps. These buses are already required to use lap belts and the shoulder belt requirement would go into effect in three years.
  • For longer buses, provide federal standards for school districts that make the decision to add shoulder straps and/or lap belts. Districts would also be allowed to use federal highway safety funds to cover the additional cost of equipping buses with those devices.
While there is no new money being provided to districts to make these changes, allowing federal highway safety funds to be used does at least open the door to the possibility that changes will be made. On the other hand, in a district like ours, full of big old school buses, it has the potential to make no difference whatsoever.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.