HOUSTON – Beginning September 1, all new school buses are required to be equipped with seatbelts. But it could be years before students in the area are forced to buckle up.
“We need to take action, not talk about it, not study the issue. It’s been studied since 1967,” said product safety lawyer Rob Ammons. “It’s time to put the belts on the bus.”
Ammons is currently suing the motor coach industry for not having belts on its buses. He does not understand why Texas, which passed a law requiring seat belts in new school buses, has yet to take action.
“Until we get these belts in school buses, we’re putting our kids at risk,” Ammons said.
While the state passed the law, and a study was done to implement it, the Texas School Board is still reviewing it.
“The district is waiting for the feasibility study for the board and the TEA to review and finalize that feasibility study and we’ll defer to those recommendations.” said Nathan Graf with HISD.
Without an approved plan, Houston and other school districts in the state can do nothing.
“Well there’s a lot of talk and it seems to be a lot of red tape and very little action,” said Ammons.
Critics argue the lack of action is because of state government red tape that will prevent seat belts from being on state school buses for at least a few years.
Also, the Texas Education Agency recently proposed to reduce seat belt funding from the $10 million that it has already set aside to just $3.6 million.
Interestingly enough, one city in Texas already uses seat belts on its buses.
“They have required seat belts on buses in the AISD, the Austin Independent School District, for many, many years now,” Ammons said.
Here in Houston, though, it might be a while before such a measure is put into place.