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In Wake of Fatal Bus Crash, Houston Union Leader Calls for Mandatory Seat Belts

Since September 2010, new buses have to have belts – but only if the state agrees to pay for them. HISD doesn’t require students to wear them.



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the school bus as it is being towed away from the scene
Tuesday, Sept 15 a tragic school bus accident left two girls dead and three others hospitalized. The school bus being towed away from the scene.
UPDATE: HISD has decided to review all of its policies and procedures related to bus safety days after the fatal crash. In an email statement, HISD spokeswoman Holly Huffman said that the district will consult with governmental and industry experts to identify best practices. After that review, administrators will give any necessary recommendations to the school board.

“Student safety is HISD's top priority,” Huffman said.

There continue to be a lot of questions about the tragic school bus accident that killed two high school girls.

One local union leader believes mandatory seat belts could have made a difference.

Her demand to Houston school leaders: "Make it mandatory for kids to put those seat belts on."

Wretha Thomas, who represents bus drivers and other service workers with the Houston Independent School District, made her call on Thursday.

Currently, only about 40-50 percent of HISD buses have safety belts. The district manages the largest school bus service in the state, with nearly 1,000 buses transporting more than 30,000 students every day.

Since September 2010, new buses have to have belts – but only if the state agrees to pay for them.

Thomas said that HISD should still equip all of its buses with three-point seat belts.

"This seat belt will hold the kid down in the seat and hold them across the strap," Thomas said. "Seat belts only cost them about $40 for a strap. And we want them to stop putting a price on those kids' heads."

The school bus that plunged off the freeway this week was equipped with safety belts. But the four students headed to Furr High School didn't have to buckle in. Two students and the bus driver survived the crash; two teenage girls died.

As HISD's transportation manager Nathan Graf explained to reporters earlier this week, it's optional for HISD students to wear a seat belt.

"It's optional because it's difficult for the bus driver to enforce," Graf said.

Graf said that HISD is going to wait for Houston police to finish their investigation of the crash. Then they'll evaluate any changes to seat belts on school buses.


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