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Senator wants seat belts in Nebraska school buses

A Nebraska senator, says has a plan to that will make school buses safer for your kids. (NTV/Ifesinachi Egbosimba)
A Nebraska senator, says has a plan to that will make school buses safer for your kids. (NTV/Ifesinachi Egbosimba)
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A Nebraska senator, says has a plan to that will make school buses safer for your kids.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says school buses are the safest way for kids to get to class. The size and color of school buses make them easily visible to other drivers and the high padded seats, designed to protect kids if they do crash; but one Nebraska senator says more needs to be done to make sure every child makes it home at the end of the day.

"It's not a matter of if we have another school bus accident, it's when. Let's have our kids as safe as we possibly can have them," said Senator Robert Hilkemann, (R-Dist. 4).

Senator Hilkemann proposed two pieces of legislation in January.

If passed, the first bill proposed would make it illegal for drivers to use their mobile devices while the bus is in motion.

The second bill would go into effect in 2018, requiring new buses purchased by school districts to have seat belts.

"We have always made the decision based on research, and research just isn't out there to support seat belts having any impact on students riding the bus. When we look at the costs and the evidence to say we should do it, it's just not there," said Dr. Robin Dexter, Associate Superintendent for Grand Island Schools.

According to Senator Hilkemann, buying buses with seat belts would cost an extra $7,000 to $10,000 per bus, depending on the size.

Dr. Dexter says if the bill does pass, the district would have to make cuts to manage costs.

"Every year we've added a bus route, because kids need a way to get to school; so something would have to be given up and I anticipate it would be a bus route," said Dr. Dexter.

Dr. Dexter, says she’s also concerned about the time it would take to get younger children buckled up and unbuckled, if there is an emergency.

"These are very easy to use seat belts that children will quickly learn how to get in and out of them. I even think at the time of an accident, they'll find a way to get out of it," said Senator Hilkemann.

Both pieces of legislation will go to the transportation committee for discussion. If they pass, they'll move on to the full legislature for vote.

Senator Hilkemann did propose a school bus seat belt law back in 2015, but it didn't make it past committee.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, on average six children in the U.S. die every year in school bus crashes.

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