After Weeks Of Discussion, Tennessee Lawmakers Advance Plan For Seatbelts On Buses

Apr 4, 2017

A measure that would require Tennessee school buses to have seatbelts is moving forward after weeks of discussion in the state legislature.

The proposal comes in response to last November's crash in Chattanooga that killed six children. The plan calls for phasing in seatbelts on new buses starting in 2019.

Knoxville Republican Bill Dunn predicts restraints won't just make kids safer. They'll provide side benefits.

"They will put their seatbelt on, and there's less chance of them jumping out in the aisle and teasing the person behind them and all the stuff that's going," Dunn says. "And I think that that will be the day-to-day benefit of actually having seatbelts."

The House Transportation Committee approved an amended version of House Bill 395 on a 9-7 vote. The Senate Education Committee could take the proposal up as soon as Wednesday. It is also slated to be considered by the House Education Administration & Planning Committee.

The measure still stands a good chance of being defeated. Skeptics in the state legislature argue kids probably won't actually use the seatbelts and, if they do, the restraints could slow emergency evacuations.

They also note it'll cost Tennessee schools millions of dollars more each year to purchase buses with seatbelts.