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Local Third Graders Address The Issue Of Seat Belts On School Buses

Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

When I was a child seat belts, car seats or restraints for a child in a moving vehicle were nonexistent. I remember standing between my parents on the bench seat of the gas guzzling Chrysler as a toddler. When my daughter was young she could still sit in the front seat with me because cars weren’t all equipped with air bags. As time went on they became more strict until where we are today. Infant seats, rear facing car seats, car seats for toddlers and by law children in the back seat until they’re a certain age or weight. So, it has always baffled me that a vehicle that carries our children every week day for 9 months out of the year doesn’t have restraints of any kind, except for the driver.  While it has been brought up in legislation before, still nothing has done about it. Is it because of funding? Estimated costs to equip a school bus with seat belts is approximately $8000. Totally worth the money if it saves the lives of our children, don’t you think?

According to a story by our media partners, wdio.com, a third grade class at Laura MacArthur was challenged to identify an issue, come up with a solution and send a letter to our local legislature. A great lesson to be learned, how an issue is addressed and the process in which it can be rectified. The story cited one 8 year old that admits to mischief on the bus that lead to him falling against the metal seat and hitting his head resulting in the need for stitches. The concern and actions of these children has prompted the drafting of a bill that would address the request of their letter stating “any new school buses purchased as of January 1, 2018 be equipped with safety belts for all passengers”.

Great, glad that they have realized the need, but what about the old school buses? With the budget issues our schools our facing, it’s highly unlikely the fleet would be changed to the new legislation buses for years to come. Isn’t there a way they can install seat belts in the buses we currently use as well?  It may be expensive to retro-fit our current buses, but aren’t the lives of our students worth it?

I don’t have kids in the school system anymore so this blog isn’t a voice for my own children, instead it’s the admission of embarrassment. I have felt that seat belts should be included on our school buses for years. Still, it took a group of third graders learning a lesson in legislative writing to get this important need addressed. Thank you to their instructor Ms. Glomski for inspiring her class to get the job done.

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