New Mexico among states without law requiring seat belts on school buses | KOB 4

New Mexico among states without law requiring seat belts on school buses

Morgan Aguilar
October 12, 2017 06:20 AM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- A Texas law passed in April requires all newly purchased school buses to have three-point seat belts. It replaces a 2007 law that left it up to school districts to decide whether they wanted to apply for state money to fund it. Now, any buses districts purchase that are model year 2018 or later must be equipped with seat belts.


New Mexico is one of 44 states without any laws requiring seat belts on school buses. In 1999, then-Albuquerque City Councilor Sam Bregman proposed a city ordinance that would have made them mandatory, but the mayor at the time vetoed it.

"It seems like it’s long overdue," said Bregman. "We have safety belts on everything from cars, airplanes, even shopping carts."

Most argue that the cost of adding seat belts is not worth it. It would tack on between $7,000 and $10,000 per bus. Based on injury and accident statistics, school buses are already the safest way for students to get to school.

When school buses do crash, there tend to be widespread consequences. In 2013, nine students were injured when a school bus crashed near Espanola. The driver was killed.

Several parents dropping off their kids at an Albuquerque middle school told KOB they would absolutely support paying to equip school buses with seat belts.

"I think that's a good investment for the state and for our youth as well," said Yasser, parent of a middle school student.  

"I think it's really important because if anything happens then, then there are no seatbelts, it's just dangerous just like we're supposed to be wearing seatbelts. The kids should be wearing them too," said Kimberly, aunt of a middle school student.

More than 400 buses transfer about 40,000 Albuquerque Public School students every day. Even at the low end of $7,000 per bus, it would cost the district nearly $3 million to ensure all the buses have seat belts. The district’s total transportation budget for the 2016-2017 school year is $19 million.


Morgan Aguilar

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