State Rep. urges passing of school bus seat belt bill
By: Rebecca Turco & The Associated Press
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Numerous Rhode Island lawmakers are pushing for seat belts on school buses, as the legislative session nears its end.
The Rhode Island Senate recently approved the bill by a 37-0 vote last week, which would require all new school buses bought or leased in the state to be equipped with seat belts for the driver and every passenger.
It would also require school districts to plan bus evacuation drills.
Rep. Robert Nardolillo, a Coventry Republican, has sponsored companion legislation in the House. “We have to be responsible to our children in offering them the best safety possible,” he explained.
In February, the bill was held for further study. Nardolillo says he’s meeting with the Speaker to discuss moving his bill to the House floor.
The Teamsters Local Union 251 has expressed disapproval of the legislation, stating that by design buses are already the safest form of transportation on the roadways, and arguing that in an emergency situation, panic-striken kids may have trouble un-doing their buckles and the driver wouldn’t have time to help everyone.
A statement reads, in part: “[The bus driver’s] job is to safely drive a bus with as many as 70 children to school, and home. Adding the responsibility of ensuring all 70 children are buckled in and not misusing the safety belts during their first taste of freedom after being bottled up in school for the last 6 hours is asking the impossible.”
© WLNE-TV 2016