Illinois U.S. Senator Duckworth Re-Introduces Bus Safety Act To Improve Safety For Students

Jim Gudas
September 06, 2019 - 5:15 pm

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Illinois U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth said it’s time for the federal government to implement stricter safety standards for school buses.

Duckworth said her School Bus Safety Act, which she re-introduced July 26 with Tennessee Representative Steve Cohen, would mandate seat belts for students on school buses, as is already the case on buses transporting students to and from Chicago public schools.

“No parent should have to worry about the safety of their children when they get on a school bus, but school buses often lack seat belts and other basic safety equipment that every parent demands,” Duckworth said in a statement. “Nothing is more important than protecting our children, which is why I’m proud to be re-introducing the School Bus Safety Act with Rep. Cohen to help prevent accidents, make accidents less severe and implement other commonsense safety recommendations that will save lives.”

Among the bill’s supporters is Cathy Chase of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. She said the seatbelts should already be installed in school buses.

"We need a pledge from Congress to get this legislation enacted," Chase said. "The School Bus Safety Act has overdue requirements that the National Transportation Safety Board has recommended be in all school buses."

Duckworth’s bill would also require fire suppression systems and firewalls on all school buses, as well as automatic emergency braking systems, crash data recorders and electronic stability controls.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 1,241 people have died in school transportation-related crashes between 2008 and 2017, which is an average of 124 people each year. That includes a pair of tragic school bus accidents in 2016 that took place in Baltimore, Maryland and Chattanooga, Tennessee, both of which resulted in six fatalities.