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Congress Takes Latest Crack at School Bus Safety Act

Lawmakers in Washington, D.C., hope the third time is a charm for legislation that would require lap/shoulder seatbelts in school buses as well as additional safety technology sought by the National Transportation Safety Board.

While Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois is reportedly planning on reintroducing her School Bus Safety Act legislation in the coming weeks, Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee was joined by Rep. Albio Sires of New Jersey in reintroducing a House version to require school buses be equipped with the three-point seatbelts, emergency braking systems, and other modern safety equipment.

Sen. Tammy Duckworth addresses the audience during the 51st annual NASDPTS conference 2019 on Oct. 16.
Sen. Tammy Duckworth addresses the audience during the 51st annual NASDPTS conference on Oct. 16, 2019.

The School Bus Safety Act was introduced in both chambers on Sept. 12, 2018. Duckworth discussed the School Bus Safety Act 2019 during the 51st annual National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services conference in October 2019. The Act was first filed in September 2018 and again the following summer.


Related: Sen. Duckworth Highlights Plan to Improve School Bus Safety Nationwide
Related: Congressional Bill Addresses School Bus Improvements Sought by NSTB
Related: Show Reporter 2019


The Democrats hope a majority in both the House and Senate pushes the legislation through this time.

“No parent should have to worry about the safety of their children when they get on a school bus yet buses often lack seatbelts and other basic safety equipment,” Duckworth stated this month. “The School Bus Safety Act provides commonsense safety recommendations that will save lives by preventing accidents and making those tragic accidents that do happen less severe.”

The School Bus Safety Act 2021 would require the U.S. Department of Transportation to issue rules requiring all school buses to include automatic emergency braking, electronic stability control, an event data recorder, a fire suppression system, and three-point safety belts. The bill also calls for safeguards to prohibit hazardous quantities of gas or flames from passing from the engine compartment to the passenger compartment.

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