"Districts have absorbed that upcharge over the years," he added.
Hood said that, as of July 3, 2013, about 12,000 of the state's 15,000 school buses in daily service are equipped with the lap seat belts.
Meanwhile, of the six states with school-bus, seat-belt laws, California, Florida, New Jersey and Texas require students to use the restraints. California student riders also must be taught how to use the three-point restraints "in an age-appropriate manner." New York allows individual school boards to decide if they will provide lap belts on buses.
California and Florida law stipulate that transportation providers first allocate lap-shoulder belts on elementary-school routes. Both state laws and the one in New Jersey also protect any rider, school district or organization operating a school bus from being ticketed for not wearing seat belts.
Texas school districts must require students to wear their three-point seat belts on buses equipped with them, and they may develop a disciplinary policy to enforce seat belt usage. Texas law also requires student training on the lap-shoulder systems.
Individually, local school districts in other states may voluntarily install seat belts. The National Congress on School Transportation in 2005 passed a resolution that urged the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration to change the federal regulations to only allow lap-shoulder seat belts in school buses 10,000 pounds GVWR and less. NHTSA's revised FMVSS 222 published in 2010 requires these three-point retraint systems in small school buses while leaving to school districts and states the decision on requiring three-point belts on school buses over the 10,000-pound GVWR threshold.
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