State Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver: School Bus Seat Belts a Bad Idea

Tennessee Star


State Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver on Wednesday called a bill that would require seat belts on Tennessee school buses “emotionally-driven” and  “bad policy.”

Weaver (R-Lancaster) made her comments when the proposed legislation was brought before the House Education Administration and Planning Committee.

The bill is sponsored in the House by Rep. JoAnne Favors (D-Chattanooga) and in the Senate by Sen. Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga). It comes in the aftermath of a Chattanooga school bus crash in November in which six children were killed and others injured. Bus driver Johnthony Walker was charged with vehicular homicide. Police say Walker was speeding when the bus crashed into a tree and flipped over.

Weaver said requiring seat belts could lead to more deaths as a result of little children not being able to work themselves out of their restraints, especially if a bus caught fire or ended up in water.

“This is a very dangerous bill,” Weaver said.

The bill originally called for any bus purchased starting July 2018 to be equipped with a restraint system and required any bus currently in use to have seat belts by July 2023. The bill was later amended to require only buses purchased starting July 2019 to have seat belts.

Because the Education Administration and Planning Committee was short on time Wednesday morning, members voted to continue discussion of the bill next week.

Rep. Eddie Smith (R-Knoxville) said that no school superintendents or school board members have contacted legislators to oppose the bill.

But Weaver said she has heard from school bus drivers in her district and that they’re the ones on the front lines. She said their job is hard enough and that making them responsible for helping children out of seat belts in case of an accident would add to the pressure they’re under, she said.

Weaver said she’s also concerned about the costs of purchasing all new buses with seat belts. She said that her district often buys used school buses.

The committee did pass on Wednesday a bill that would allow districts to install cameras on school buses to catch drivers going past school bus stop arm signs.



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4 Thoughts to “State Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver: School Bus Seat Belts a Bad Idea”

  1. Bob

    She is right on. Sure glad she has had the nerve to speak out.

  2. Don’t I remember a car seat bill that was also a “no brainer” that passed unanimously last year because everyone voted on emotions “it’s to protect the children”, then within hours it was found to be a huge error with unintended consequences? Rep Weaver is thinking before acting.

  3. Ruth Wilson

    Rep. Weaver is correct. This is a dangerous bill. It is driven by emotion. First, think about her argument of the children having to free themselves from these “contraptions” should they need to get out FAST. Seat belts don’t insure safety. They insure that you will stay put until you can be extricated from the situation if you are “pinned in” as my Daddy use to say. Daddy had a lot of Common Sense (he was on the local Fire Dept.) and I have listened to his “counsel” on this subject many times.
    The cost will be HUGE to local School Districts because the cost will be attached to the price of the Buses. The Local County Taxpayers will be saddled with this “mandatory school bus seat belt” costs.
    I agree, Rep. Weaver, you have good sense to “question” this legislation and I hope it gets put in “File 13”.
    For God & Country

    1. Bobby

      A driver has no way of enforcing the correct use of the belts, Before you do this pass out belts with large metal buckles and see how many are turned into weapons, the first eye that’s knocked out will end in a lawsuit, getting the driver fired.