Tim Cullen Wants Your Kid to Wear a Seat Belt
The Janesville lawmaker is shopping around a statewide mandate.
State Sen. Tim Cullen (D-Janesville) has said he's circulating a bill that would require seat belts on all Wisconsin school buses manufactured after the law takes effect. The legislation would also create an incentive program to encourage schools to install seat belts on buses already in use, but there would be no added mandate that existing vehicles strap kids in.
According to the National Education Association, bus drivers tend to strongly oppose seat belt requirements, and partly because kids can use the metal latches as weapons against each other. Drivers also complain that they would rather have aides on buses to help control students, instead of expecting belts to serve as a "quick fix."
Cullen was a member of the Janesville School Board when it voted to make Janesville the only district in the state that requires seat belts. In 2006, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a statement on the issue that downplayed the need for a national mandate, asserting, "School buses are one of the safest forms of transportation in the United States."
Part of the reason for their safety is their large size, and Wisconsin law requires that buses falling under five tons be equipped with seat belts -- and this includes the smaller buses used to transport students with special needs.