Gov. Brian Sandoval signed off on legislation that requires all newly purchased school buses operated by public and private schools after July 1, 2019 must be equipped with three-point “shoulder-harness-type” seat belts.
However, Diana Hollander, state director of the Nevada State Department of Education, noted that most private and charter schools don’t purchase new school buses and instead opt for used buses that fall out of this new requirement. Hollander added that updated state school bus specifications will reflect that the seat belts are to be three-point lap-shoulder belt.
Nevada is now the seventh state in the U.S. with a school-bus, seat-belt law, and the third behind California and Texas to specifically call for lap-shoulder restraints. Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey and New York require two-point lap belts, but Louisiana has never appropriated necessary funding from the state legislature as required by the law.
Nevada's legislation, AB 485, makes no mention about student usage of lap-shoulder belts, but Hollander added that the state board will add requirements for school bus drivers to encourage students to buckle up, based on recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board.
It also revises the definition of a school bus to mean a vehicle designed to carry more than 10 passengers, including the driver. Hollander said the legislation essentially outlaws all 15-passenger vans used for student transportation and requires school buses or multifunction school activity buses be used instead.
AB 485 authorizes school districts to sign written agreements to lease school buses or school vehicles for special events on weekends or after normal school hours. All school bus lettering, stop arms and flashing lights must first be removed. An MFSAB is allowable as is.
The legislation moves oversight of school bus inspections to the Department of Public Safety from the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Editor's note — This article has been updated from an original version published on June 2 to indicate Gov. Sandoval's signing of AB 485 on June 4.