Latest School Bus Seat Belt Bill Introduced in Minnesota

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A state representative last week filed the most recent attempt to require seat belt restraints on newly purchased school buses.

The Minnesota Association for Pupil Transportation Board of Directors said this week that any mandate should be funded by the state legislature. MAPT estimated that it could cost between $8,000 and $9,000 to install lap/shoulder belts in each newly purchased large school bus.

HF No. 2581, introduced by Rep. Lyndon Carlson Sr., would amend current Minnesota statute by mandating that new buses purchased after Dec. 31 of this year must be equipped with an approved three-point lap/shoulder belt in each passenger seating position. Previously, a statute only made a provision that authorized school buses to be equipped with a lap belt or shoulder belt system.

All students would also be required to use the seat belts unless the school district received notification to the contrary from the child’s parent or guardian. In the case of a wrongful death lawsuit, no school district, school bus driver, school personnel or volunteer could be found liable for failing to assist a student with adjusting, fastening or unfastening a seat belt on a school bus.

If passed, the bill would also strike the word “school bus” from a list of vehicles exempted from license fees that must be equipped with seat belts in the front seat position. The bill was referred to the Education Policy Committee.