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Proposed bill may put seat belts on school busesSubmitted: 09/19/2013
Story By Ryan Michaels

RHINELANDER - We make sure our kids wear seat belts in the car. So why don't they wear them on the school bus?

Democratic State Senator Tim Cullen, Janesville, wants to change that.

His bill would put three point seat belts on all new school buses. According to Wisconsin Radio Network, Senator Cullen(D) said, "I am amazed that we let those kids roll down the road at 55 miles an hour with no seat belt."

Rhinelander School District Superintendent Kelli Jacobi thinks school bus safety is a priority.

But she says in certain situations, seat belts make the bus less safe. "I'm not opposed to them. I see some very positive things, but what about those scary accidents, the roll overs, the fires. There's no way you could get kids off a bus quickly enough if you have to remove seat belts."

Jacobi says there are other safety measures already in place for some types of accidents. Buses are now installing high seat backs. Those help minimize injuries in front and back collisions.

If the bill passes, many school districts would have to pay for the seat belts. In the Rhinelander School District, Bowen's Bus Service provides the student transportation and did not offer an opinion on the seat belt bill.

But Jacobi says the bus service would have to pay for the seat belts. Which in turn would likely lead to higher service charges, and therefore more tax payer money in the end.

School districts would be able to apply for grants to help with about fifty percent of the cost of the school bus seat belts. But that still averages out to roughly four thousand dollars per bus.

She says there are about ten student deaths from school bus accidents every year. Most injuries involving school buses happen as students are loading and unloading the bus.



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