Ask 2: Why don’t all Texas school buses have seat belts?

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HOUSTONAt KPRC 2, we’re dedicated to keeping Houstonians informed. As part of our new Ask 2 series, the newsroom will answer your questions about all things Houston.

The question: Why don’t all Texas School buses have seatbelts?

When Governor Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 693 into law in 2017, Texas became one of only a handful of states in the country to pass some variation of a school bus seat belt law.

The law was spurred in part by a tragic accident that left two Houston Independent School District students dead in 2015, when an HISD bus plunged from an overpass. Two Furr High School students lost their lives. Then-Texas State Sen. Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston authored SB 693 and championed the legislation until it became law.

Despite the school bus seat belt law, many Texas school buses remain belt-less.

That’s because the legislation requires three-point seat belts on all buses that are model year 2018 or later. The law does not require Texas school districts to retrofit older busses with seat belts and allows school districts to opt out of the three-point seat belt requirement if a school board determines that its budget does not permit the district to purchase a bus that is equipped with seat belts.

According to HISD, all students are required to use and securely fasten 3-point belts when available, and any time a bus is in motion. Students are encouraged to use and fasten lap belts when available, and when a bus is in motion. As the district procures new buses, it plans to phase out older buses in the fleet that do not have 3-point safety belts.

As of August 2018, HISD had a fleet of 1,132 buses. 420 buses had lap belts and 173 were outfitted with three-point safety belts.

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