A bill that would require seat belts on Tennessee school buses has been pulled from this year’s legislative calendar.
The measure was seen as an effort to do something in the wake of a school bus crash in Chattanooga in November in which six children were killed and dozens injured. The proposed legislation was sponsored by two Chattanooga legislators, JoAnne Favors, a Democrat in the House, and Todd Gardenhire, a Republican in the Senate.
Proponents of the bill said it might prevent injuries and deaths in the future, but others said the bill was an emotional and flawed response. Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster) voiced concerns about young children panicking and not being able to work themselves out of their restraints. Others said the Chattanooga crash pointed more to a need to better screen bus drivers. Costs were another concern.
In the Chattanooga crash, bus driver Johnthony Walker was charged with vehicular homicide. Police say Walker was speeding when the bus crashed into a tree and flipped over.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, school buses are the safest vehicles on the road, with only four to six children dying each year on school transportation vehicles, making up less than one percent of all traffic fatalities nationwide.
Several states have moved toward requiring seat belts and other state legislatures are considering them.