Tennessee lawmakers weigh in on school bus seat belts

(Courtesy: NTSB)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – After several children were killed and others seriously injured in a school bus crash in Chattanooga, there’s been a new effort to put seat belts on school buses. Some Tennessee lawmakers are hoping to move a bill forward as the General Assembly gets back to work.

“You put them on a bus, you are entrusting them to bring them home safely,” said State Sen. Becky Duncan Massey.

She and other state leaders are continuing the conversation about seat belts on school buses as the 110th General Assembly starts session.

“I think it is definitely something that we need to look at,” she said.

She supports seat belts after the deadly accident in Chattanooga, as well as the Knox County bus crash two years ago.

“Obviously it is coming up with funding, but this might be a good year to come up with funding,” Massey said.

This session, the state is deciding what to do with its budget surplus. Some representatives say fixing school buses will cost a couple of million dollars.

“But then the increase cost of buses that when we go to purchase those, is something that local governments and state governments have to somehow fund, so that’s where the issue comes in,” said State Rep. Eddie Smith.

Smith says it’s not just about funding or adding seat belts. It’s also about making sure the fixes are best for all ages.

“As young as kindergarten can easily operate whatever we put on there, but it also works because that same bus may haul high school students,” he said.

Smith and Massey both agree on making sure the most qualified drivers are behind the wheel, bringing in experts to find out what the best and safest fixes are.