No Seat Belts On Buses Raising Concern - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

11/6/06-Longview

No Seat Belts On Buses Raising Concern

If you are a parent, you'll want to pay special attention to this. It turns out that children traveling to school by bus are three times as likely to end up in the emergency room than previously thought. At least 17,000 kids need emergency treatment after accidents on and around school buses. Some East Texas parents say there's an easy fix: seatbelts.

A new study shows that school bus-related accidents just like this one send 17,000 kids to the emergency room each year. A figure that has many East Texas parents wondering why school buses don't come with seat belts. 

"It angers me. The thought that my child could have been on a bus slung around like a piece of furniture is ridiculous," says Rose Chumley of Longview.

She makes sure her son, Miles, buckles up every time he gets in the car. And it's a good thing, too, because a ticket for not buckling in a child costs nearly 250 dollars in the state of Texas.

"Yeah, give me the law for my personal vehicle, but come on, I demand a law for the school district," Rose says.

"If their lives our important to us in our cars they need to be more important to the school district to have them buckled up on school buses," says concerned grandparent Patsy McGinnis.

Right now, to keeps kids safe, school buses have "compartmentalization." That means closely packed seats and energy-absorbing backs, but Transportation Directors like Russell Gerami say nowadays, it's just not enough.

"We have had concerns from the public at times about seat belts on large buses," Gerami says.

Longview ISD is looking at the costs of installing seat belts, but they say it all comes down to the state and its regulations. 

"We follow what's the national standard on that and it's compartmentalization," Gerami say.

That's an answer that has some parents wanting to do more. 

"I would like this law changed...I will do whatever I can, I'll talk to whoever I can to get this thing fixed," says Rose Chumley.

Anything, Rose says, to save children's lives.

Right now, only five states have seat belt requirements for school buses--California, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, and New York.

Tracy Watler/Reporting: tracy@kltv.com.

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