Seat belts may not be only answer for Tenn. school buses

(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The images of six young lives lost two months ago add urgency for Tennessee lawmakers to do something on school bus safety in the wake November’s Chattanooga accident.

The tragedy struck very close to home and became personal for the lawmaker who lived near the accident scene.

“It is very personal,” Rep. JoAnne Favors told News 2. “I knew all of the family members that were killed in the accident. The community is still grieving.”

Rep. Favors is one of the state lawmakers hoping to find ways to make buses safer for kids all over Tennessee.

Requiring seat belts on all school buses came to mind quickly after the Chattanooga accident, but so did another set of eyes, or adult monitors, to help watch the kids and the school bus operator.

The young driver in the fatal Chattanooga accident is accused of speeding at the time.

“Monitors are being put on some of the buses in Hamilton County already and that will help tremendously,” Favors said. “I think it’s going to be important too to have some kind of documentation of the activities the driver is involved in.”

Seat belts, adult monitors on buses, and better training for drivers are all part of the conversation of what might go into a bus safety bill on Tennessee’s Capitol Hill, but who would pay for the cost?

Sen. Jim Tracy, who used to drive school buses as a coach and teacher, hopes to improve safety requirements without creating financial burdens on local school districts.

“If the state is going to mandate it, we need to pay for it, to the LEA’s–local education association in each county,” stated Sen. Tracy.

As lawmakers debate the issue, there will be hearings first, then possibly a bill to tackle the best ways to make buses safer.