Four pieces of related legislation designed to increase safety for students who ride school buses are being considered in the Commonwealth. Proponents hope the bills are buoyed by NHTSA's recent final rule that requires lap-and-shoulder belts on motorcoaches.
H2172, introduced last January by Rep. Harold P. Naughton, Jr., seeks to require properly adjusted lap-shoulder belts be worn by all school bus passengers on all new school buses. A committee hearing was held on the legislation on Thursday. But reportedly there is still little support in the legislature. Several previous attempts to mandate school bus seat belts have failed.
But, if passed next year, school buses purchased in 2016 and thereafter would need to be equipped with the occupant restraint systems. Related legislation are bills H2122, H2154 and S1147.
Naughton's bill also requires proper instruction to students on using the seat belts, per the manufacturer's instructions, and reduced insurance rates for school buses "to account for the decreased risk of injury associated with the installation of a lap-shoulder belt system approved by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration in any such bus so equipped."
The bill also requires students to wear a three-point restraint if the current bus they are riding in is already equipped with the system, but it protects a school district or bus operator from liability if a student passenger does not wear the three-point seat belt.