A Louisiana House Bill that passed this month requires the use of occupant restraint systems on school buses purchased after Jan. 1, 2023, and repeals previous legislation that states seatbelts are subject to appropriation of funds.
Though Louisiana is one of nine states with seatbelt laws currently in place, it has been unable to fully implement its requirement due to insufficient funding. Present law requires the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to adopt rules and regulations requiring every bus used for the transportation of students to be equipped with occupant restraint systems. However, current law is subject to the appropriation of necessary funds.
House Bill 130 repeals the funding condition and applies the occupant restraint system requirement to charter school buses.
Related: Seat Belt Resources
The first version of the bill originally called on buses purchased after June 30, 2004, to be equipped with the restraints and potentially retrofitted, which could have cost upward of $34 million, according to a legislative note on the bill.
The new version introduced in March states that buses placed in service after Jan. 1, 2023, are to be equipped with occupant restraint systems. It removes language about retrofitting the seatbelt systems.
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While the bill does not disclose whether the occupant restraints should be two-point lap belts or three-point, lap-and-shoulder belts, Louisiana’s current law passed in 1999 specifically calls for two-point variety. It also does not include language on who is responsible for making sure children wear seatbelts and does not indicate liability for anyone in the case the children fail to do so.
HB 130 is currently being debated in the Senate.