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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: December 7, 2016 04:31 PM
From: Senator Stewart J. Greenleaf
To: All Senate members
Subject: Seat Belts on School Buses
I am reintroducing Senate Bill 66, amending the Vehicle Code, Title 75 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, to require each seat on every school bus to be equipped with or to be fitted with seat belts. No passenger may be carried for which a seat belt is not available. Each passenger must use a seat belt while the bus is in motion.

Six states—California, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, and Texas—require seat belts on school buses. A number of other states are considering legislation.

Every year, approximately 450,000 public school buses travel approximately 4.3 billion miles to transport 25 million children to and from school and school-related activities. From 2004 to 2013, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that 1,344 people died in school-transportation-related crashes – an average of 134 fatalities a year. Most of the people who lost their lives in those crashes (71%) were occupants of the other vehicles involved. Non-occupants (pedestrians, bicyclists, and etc.) accounted for 21% of the deaths, and school bus occupants accounted for 8%.

National data indicates that school bus-related accidents result in 17,000 children being treated in emergency rooms each year. The research, based on 2001-2003 data from a surveillance system operated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, revealed that crashes accounted for 42% of the accidents.

Last year, Dr. Mark Rosekind, the Administrator of the NHTSA, stated that “NHTSA’s policy is that every child on every school bus should have a three point seat belt” and indicated that the Administration would work to help accomplish that goal. Dr. Rosekind also remarked that “Without seat belts on buses, there is a gaping, obvious hole in our safety measures that sparks questions all of us have to answer. With seat belts, we can build momentum for student pedestrian safety, enhanced enforcement, and more.” While NHTSA’s new policy on seat belts in school buses is not a mandate, I believe it represents a step in the right direction.

Seat belts will help reduce rambunctious behavior by children that can distract a driver. A child wearing a seat belt has a much better chance of surviving a school bus accident than a child not wearing a seat belt. The safety of our children outweighs the costs of installing the belts.

Introduced as SB78