72ºF

Does your child's school district require seat belts on school buses?

4 years after deadly HISD crash, we examine the numbers

HOUSTON – On Sept. 15, 2015, two students were killed when the Houston Independent School District school bus they were traveling in was struck by a car, sending it over 610 South Loop.

The bus was headed to Furr High School when the crash sent it through the guardrail of 610 South, where it landed on its side at the intersection of Telephone Road and 610 South Loop.

The victims

Mariya Johnson, 17, died at the scene and 14-year-old Jenecia Chatman later died at Memorial Hermann Hospital. In 2018, KPRC Investigates spoke with the mothers of both victims, who shared how this tragic collision changed their lives forever.

Mariya, 17, was starting her first year at REACH Charter High School, which is on the campus of Furr High School.

For Mariya’s mother, it was an ordeal she could have never imagined.

"When they said something had happened, I merely thought it was something that had happened at school, not the bus," she said.

Janecia was starting her freshman year at REACH.

Sheanine Chatman, Janecia’s mother, mourned the loss of her daughter and the many memories they would never share together.

"I’ll never get to see my daughter graduate," she said. "I’ll never get to see her get married. I’ll never get to see her children -- none of that."

The law aimed at keeping students safe on school buses

In 2017, then-Texas State Sen. Sylvia Garcia authored a bill calling for three-point safety belts on Texas school buses.

Texas Senate Bill 693 states, "A bus operated by or contracted for use by a school district for the transportation of schoolchildren shall be equipped with a three-point seat belt for each passenger, including the operator."

 

However, if a district determines that its budget does not permit the district to purchase a bus that is equipped with the seat belts required by this subsection, it can opt out of purchasing new buses with three-point safety belts.

KPRC requested each district’s policy as it relates to the equipping its buses with three-point safety belts.

KPRC also requested the number of seat belts in use per district, from several area school districts.

The information requested included the total number of school buses in operation, the number of buses with lap belts, as well as the number of school buses with three-point safety belts.