State Laws & Requirements

Of the seven states to pass school-bus, seat-belt laws, Louisiana and Texas have been unable to fully implement the requirement to install belts in new buses due to insufficient funding.

The laws in those states require supplemental funding be made available by their respective state legislatures in order to enforce seat belts, the two-point lap variety in Louisiana and three-point, lap-shoulder belts in Texas, being installed on school buses. As of yet, neither state legislature has acted, but Texas school districts did receive an initial grant of $10 million. Louisiana passed its law in 1999, the same year as Florida, and Texas passed its law in 2007. A bill passed in May 2017 and that sat on the governor's desk in Texas at this writing removes previous language on funding be appropriated for lap-shoulder seat belts and instead requires districts to install them on new buses unless the local school board votes in a public meeting to defer the requirement due to lack of funds.

Florida, meanwhile, began requiring two-point belts on buses in 2001 but doesn't make funding available to school districts. Charlie Hood, director of school transportation at the state Department of Education, said funding has not been an issue, as the cost of the restraint systems are less than 2 percent of the overall purchase cost of a new school bus.

"Districts have absorbed that upcharge over the years," he added.

Hood said that, as of July 3, 2013, about 12,000 of the state's 15,000 school buses in daily service are equipped with the lap seat belts.

Meanwhile, of the six states with school-bus, seat-belt laws, California, Florida, New Jersey and Texas require students to use the restraints. California student riders also must be taught how to use the three-point restraints "in an age-appropriate manner." New York allows individual school boards to decide if they will provide lap belts on buses.

California and Florida law stipulate that transportation providers first allocate lap-shoulder belts on elementary-school routes. Both state laws and the one in New Jersey also protect any rider, school district or organization operating a school bus from being ticketed for not wearing seat belts.

Texas school districts must require students to wear their three-point seat belts on buses equipped with them, and they may develop a disciplinary policy to enforce seat belt usage. Texas law also requires student training on the lap-shoulder systems. 

Individually, local school districts in other states may voluntarily install seat belts. The National Congress on School Transportation in 2005 passed a resolution that urged the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration to change the federal regulations to only allow lap-shoulder seat belts in school buses 10,000 pounds GVWR and less. NHTSA's revised FMVSS 222 published in 2010 requires these three-point retraint systems in small school buses while leaving to school districts and states the decision on requiring three-point belts on school buses over the 10,000-pound GVWR threshold. 

 

 

 

Last modified onThursday, 08 June 2017 15:37
More in this category: « School Bus Seat Belts Seat Belts »