New school buses must have seat belts under Texas law

Bus rides to and from school just got a little safer in Texas. On September 1st, Senate Bill 693 went into effect, requiring all newly purchased school buses to be outfitted with three-point seat belts.

The three-point seat belt law replaces a 2007 law that offered money to districts that opted to install seat belts in their school buses. Only a small percentage of districts took advantage of the funding, leaving most Texas school buses belt-less.

The new law and its 2007 predecessor were both prompted in part by tragic accidents. In 2015, a school bus in Houston plunged from an overpass, killing two students, Janecia Chatman and Mariya Johnson. Neither were wearing shoulder-to-lap seat belts. The accident occurred in the state Senate district of Sen. Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston, the author of the new law.

The 2007 legislation, “Ashley and Alicia’s Law,” was named after two Beaumont high schoolers killed when a bus they were riding overturned in 2006. After the wreck, anguished family members said they believed seat belts might have prevented the teens’ deaths. A state trooper who investigated the crash agreed.

The new state law doesn’t apply to school buses purchased before 2017, or school districts who vote to opt out of the law because of budget constraints. Seat belts are estimated to add $8,000 to $10,000 per bus.

Enforcing the wearing of these seat belts will likely fall on the drivers who will notify the principal of a student’s respective school if a student is caught not wearing a seat belt.

How The Carlson Law Firm Can Help

If your child has been injured by a school bus, claims can often be complicated to prove and pursue. Contact The Carlson Law Firm for a free consultation to discuss your case. We will go over the circumstances of the accident and explain your legal options. We have a team of attorneys, legal assistants, nurses and private investigators who are ready to assist you and help you and your loved ones back on the road to recovery.

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