Friday Follies: Seatbelts in School Buses

Seat belt

WHY? JUST . . . WHY?

Perhaps one of the most arrogant things that any legislature can do is to adopt the idea that every single part of life must be controlled by law.  There have been many examples of this throughout the current legislative session, but one of note is H.3945.

3945 would require new school buses put into service after July 2020 to have “lap seat belts” to secure students on their way to and from school. Buses manufactured before this date would not be subject to retroactive fitting of seatbelts.

This bill raises several questions.

Why is this legislation even necessary?  The bill states that bus drivers are not liable for any damages that occur as a result of not securing passengers with a seat belt. This despite making bus drivers responsible for ensuring that all passengers are buckled. If there’s no meaningful penalty for failing to comply with the legislation, what’s the purpose?

What happens if a student refuses to comply with the driver’s order to secure his seatbelt?  And given that there is no penalty for not ensuring that seatbelts are fastened securely, what’s the point? Representative Barton raised this very question on the House floor during debate over this bill.

Why would the General Assembly waste time on legislation like this, given the lack of competent legislation in much more important areas?  The only thing that can be said for this bill is that it’s feel-good legislation that “does something.”

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