Starting this fall Austin ISD and school districts across the state will have to consider a new Texas law regarding seat belts on new school buses.
Gov. Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 693 into law June 15, which requires any new school buses purchased by school districts to include seat belts for each passenger.
The law went into effect Sept. 1. Six states, now including Texas, require seat belts on school buses.
In November, voters in AISD will decide on a $1.05 billion bond package that includes a $21.4 million line item to pay for 190 replacement buses over a five year period.
The law requires three-point seat belts, which include lap and shoulder straps, for each passenger. The requirement only applies to buses purchased that are model year 2018 or later, so buses already in service will not have to be retrofitted with belts.
Also, districts will not have to order new buses with seat belts if the district is not able to allocate the funds in the budget and if the school board approves the decision.
Each year, districts across the state send accident reports to the Texas Education Agency. For the 2015-16 school year, AISD reported 21 accidents involving school buses. In those accidents, 14 buses had lap belts, and seven had three-point lap and shoulder straps. There were 113 students involved in all the accidents, and one minor injury was reported. No fatalities were reported.