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City lawmakers in Beachwood, Ohio, recently passed legislation that will require seat belts on all new school buses, providing up to $250,000 in funding to pay for the equipment.  Beachwood City Council, in cooperation with the Beachwood Board of Education and Mayor Martin S. Horwitz’s office, approved Ordinance No. 2018-195 at a city council meeting on Dec. 17.  This marks the city as the first in the state to implement such legislation.

Vicki Challenger, a third grade teacher for Hilltop Elementary School, said that the ordinance was initially prompted by classroom discussions among city council members and third grade students during a civics lesson.

“In each of my six classes, the idea to implement [seat belts] came up numerous times,” Challenger, who teaches about 90 third grade students a day, said. “Some of the students kept saying, ‘If we have to wear seat belts in a car, why not wear them on a bus?’”

The idea particularly struck a chord with Beachwood City Council vice president James Pasch, who broke his neck and back in a school bus rollover accident while in high school, according to a news release from the council.  Pasch, along with other city council members, were impressed with the students’ recommendation, and had invited them to attend their city council meeting in December, Challenger said. “I’m just so proud because this is not an experience I could have taught to the students — to actually see how local law works.”

“Having seat belts installed in school buses is a big step, and student safety should really be a priority for us,” Breglia said. “In Ohio, only school bus drivers have been required to wear seat belts since 1986.”

Last May, Ohio state representative John Barnes introduced a bill that would require lap-shoulder belts on all school buses that are either purchased, owned, leased, or rented as well as new replacement and existing school buses. If HB680 becomes law, Ohio would be joining other states, including California, New Jersey, and Nevada that require lap-shoulder belt.

States have been going back and forth on this situation for quite a while.  Ohio has shown that getting the students involved can get things done !!!

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