Following passing of state law, Edinburg CISD purchases school buses with seat belts
A new Texas law aims to protect students traveling in school buses.
"Nationwide children lose their life on school buses, like any other vehicular accident. I wish I could say that it'll never happen. It will, it's going to happen," said Edinburg CISD transportation director Alonzo Barbosa.
Senate Bill 693, signed into law over the summer, is now in effect and will have many buckling up. The new law ensures all new school buses have 3-point seat belts installed, including buses chartered by school districts.
"With most Texas school buses lacking seatbelts, we feel like our lawmakers have made a commendable decision to promote the safety of our children and their lives are too precious not to," said Texas Watch deputy director Tori Sommerman.
In the 2015-2016 school year, approximately 108 students were injured in a school bus with no seat belts, 42 students were injured in a school bus with lap belts only and seven student injuries occurred in buses with 3-point seat belts, according to school bus crash data from the Texas Education Agency.
The school board on Tuesday approved purchasing 10 brand new school buses with shoulder-to-lap seat belts at a cost of about $1 million. Barbosa says the district prefers to stay proactive as more than 15,000 students are transported on school buses daily.
"If you are going to use the bus, whether it's assigned to you or you get it during a field trip, every single child and adult that's on board the bus must wear their 3-point seat belt,” said Barbosa. “So, absolutely the driver will not move until everybody is seat belted in.”
The new law does not require older buses be modified and districts that can't afford the restraints do not have to follow the requirement, if they hold a public meeting with a vote. The Edinburg school district is expecting to receive their 10 brand new school buses by the end of the year.