Legislation was introduced this month before the Washington State Legislature that would require all newly purchased school buses to be equipped with lap-shoulder seat belts, with illegal passing cameras paying for the occupant restraints as well as all new school bus purchases.
If passed, all new school buses purchased after Sept. 1, 2018, would be required to be installed with three-point seat belts. It would also require the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to include specifications for the occupant restraint systems in the state’s competitive bid.
The bill also provides a funding stream for the lap-shoulder seat belts by requiring all school districts to install stop-arm cameras by Sept. 1, 2018, going a step farther than a law enacted several years ago that only allows districts to install the technology. HB 1246 mandates that ticket revenues cover the full cost of seat-belt implementation within five years, with future revenue funding school bus replacement cycles.
HB 1246 also offers incentives to local law enforcement for citation processing. A legislative note explains that the current stop-arm camera law sends all revenue from resulting tickets directly to school districts. But once consequence is that many local law enforcement agencies have refused to process the violations.
HB 1246 was introduced on Jan. 16 by Rep. Gina McCabe and cosigned by a dozen other legislators. It was scheduled for a second read Monday afternoon in the House Committee on Education.
State lawmakers also introduced SB 5056 to require seat belts in school buses, including those owned and operated by a private contractor. That bill was read last week in the Senate Committee on Transportation.