Officials push for bus seat belt legislation following fatal crash

Ian Bush
May 29, 2018 - 5:37 pm
The bus, carrying middle school students from Paramus, was ripped from its chassis in an accident along Route 80.

© Magdeline Bassett-USA TODAY Sports

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NEW JERSEY (KYW Newsradio) — The fatal school bus crash earlier this month has prompted a push for legislation requiring seat belts on all buses across the country.

Only eight states, including New Jersey, mandate seat restraints in large school buses.

"The evidence couldn't be clearer: Seat belts in school buses save lives," and it should be a universal law, according to North Jersey Rep. Josh Gottheimer.

But he believes it must go further.

"Three-point belts are far more effective than lap belts," he noted.

On May 17, a school bus collided with a dump truck on Interstate 80, killing a teacher and student. Investigators said the driver of the bus was trying to make an illegal U-turn and was later charged with vehicular homicide, also known as death by auto.

RELATED: Investigators probe cause of school bus crash that killed 2

Gottheimer is introducing a bill — the Secure Every Child Under the Right Equipment Standards (SECURES) Act — in the House that would make those lap-and-shoulder seat belts standard on school buses. 

Fellow Democrat Sen. Bob Menendez is planning companion legislation. 

Gottheimer said there's bipartisan support, especially after a study by federal transportation officials last week formally recommended all new school buses be equipped with three-point belts.

"We recommit ourselves to doing everything we can to make sure our kids are as safe as they can be," he added.

The measure also "encourages innovative measures," like reminder systems and violation alerts to ensure children are wearing their seat belts.