United States Lawmaker Seeking to Make Seat Belts Mandatory in School Buses
UNITED STATES – A congressman from New Jersey, Representative Josh Gottheimer, is seeking to make seat belts mandatory for all school buses under federal law, according to FOX17.com.*
The "Secure Every Child Under the Right Equipment Standards Act of 2019" would provide instructions to the Secretary of Transportation to create new rules on the federal standards governing school buses, regardless of weight. Currently, federal law only requires seat belts on school buses that weigh less than 10,000 pounds, which excludes the majority of school buses. The current federal law allows individual states to decide whether to require seat belts on larger school buses, and most states don't have laws speaking to this issue. Six states, California, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York and Texas do have state specific laws pertaining to this issue.
Under the proposed federal bill, buses of any weight would be required to have seat belts. Quoted in the bill is a 2015 announcement issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which stated that "every child on every school bus should have a three-point seat belt."
A Tennessee law which would have caused seat belts to be installed on school buses was pulled in 2017. The bill was introduced after a school bus accident that occurred in Chattanooga back in 2016, which caused the tragic death of six children.
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