School Bus Seat Belts

The Beaumont School District is the first district in Texas to buy school buses equipped with three point lap and shoulder safety restraints. This comes after several Beaumont students were killed and injured in a bus accident last year. Houston Public Radio's Jim Bell reports.

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It was last March when a chartered bus rolled over on a wet highway in Liberty County, killing two members of the Beaumont West Brook High School girls' soccer team and injuring several others. The bus was not equipped with seat belts. At the urging of the victims' parents, Beaumont ISD is now buying new buses with lap and shoulder restraints, and the first batch of 30 new buses will arrive in Beaumont in a few weeks. Transportation Director Clifton Guillory says he's glad they're doing it.

"After looking at it and researching it, we knew that it was the right thing to do, I knew it was the right thing for me to recommend to our school board, because of the type of crash this can potentially help us out in."

Several Texas school districts use lap belts on their buses, but Guillory says lap belts only protect in front and rear end collisions, and provide almost no protection in side impact crashes or rollovers. He wanted three point lap and shoulder restraints because they provide protection in all kinds of accidents.

"It's more than just a seat system, it's the type that we've got. We selected the one that we thought would best fit our need and accomplish our goals."

Seat belts add about 15 thousand dollars to the cost of each bus, but Guillory says he and the Beaumont school board believe it's worthwhile and they want to get out in front on this issue as the legislature convenes this week. Several state lawmakers have already filed bills that would make school bus seatbelts mandatory statewide. Jim Bell, Houston Public Radio News.

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