There has been some movement in the progress of making school buses safer for our children. Here are some of the changes in the legislative in recent weeks:
Update on Seatbelts – New school buses in Rhode Island would have to be equipped with seat belts under a bill approved by the state Senate in May. The legislation would not require existing school buses in the state to be retrofitted with seat belts. Along with mandating seat belts on new school buses, the bill would require school districts to prepare a plan for implementation and use of the seat belts within one year of acquiring belt-equipped buses. The plan would have to include emergency evacuation drills so the driver and the students will know how to safely exit a bus. Six states have passed similar laws with the administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration calling for seat belts on all school buses.
Update on Stop Arms – At the end of May, New Jersey lawmakers introduced A-3798, legislation that would authorize school districts to deploy school bus stop arm cameras to capture video of drivers who illegally pass stopped school buses. Stop arm cameras will provide drivers, police officers, and judges with nearly indisputable evidence that will hold violators accountable. According to a national survey conducted last year by the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services, 78,518 drivers passed stopped school buses as children were loading or unloading from the bus in a single day! Our own state of South Carolina has recently approved a bill that would make it easier to cite drivers for illegally passing school buses.
Let’s hope more states take this as an example and make school bus travel as safe as they can.