Submitted by New Jersey Bus Accident Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.
BOSTON — Raising cost and compliance concerns, the group representing school-bus contractors in Massachusetts recently told lawmakers it’s not convinced that bills calling for seat belts on buses will achieve intended results.
But the opinions of School Transportation Association of Massachusetts officials have not dissuaded lawmakers pushing belt-requirement bills who say imposing the safety standard is a matter of “common sense” that will extend requirements already in place for other vehicles.
Seat belts are not required on school buses in Massachusetts but several lawmakers say they should be added, perhaps as part of the procurement process for new fleets.
“We require every other vehicle out there to have some level of seat belts and some level of restraints.
This is our most precious commodity, our kids,” said state Rep. Harold “Hank” Naughton, co-chairman of the Legislature’s Public Safety Committee, during a recent telephone interview.
At a recent hearing, officials from the School Transportation Association of Massachusetts did not stake out a position for or against numerous bus seat-belt bills — a change from their previous opposition — but suggested there’s not enough manufacturing capacity to retrofit the existing 9,400 Massachusetts school buses to add belts. They say retrofitting would lead to the voiding of manufacturer warranties, and used buses without belts would be “severely devalued” with owners forced to seek out-of-state buyers.