Ask the Mayor: Why Aren’t Seat Belts Required in School Buses?
Mayor Alan Arakawa answers some of the questions submitted to his staff.
Submit your own questions about County of Maui programs, services, operations or policies to Mayor Alan Arakawa at [email protected], 270-7855 or mail them to 200 S. High St., 9th Floor, Wailuku, HI 96793.
Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the “Ask the Mayor” column.
Q: Why aren’t seat belts required on all school buses? Why does everyone pretend to care about the children but not push this issue? I don’t want a generic answer. I want to know why Maui County has not made it law yet.
A: This is a law that would be enacted at the state level, not the county. While neither federal nor Hawai‘i state laws require the use of seat belts on school buses, there was a bill (SB172) introduced this past session at the State Legislature introduced by Sens. Espero, Harimoto, Inouye, Shimabukuro and Dela Cruz, and referred to the Education, Transportation and Energy and Ways and Means Committees. The bill did not proceed.
The American School Bus Council states that school buses are designed to offer higher safety standards than passenger vehicles by providing strong, well-padded, energy-absorbing seats and higher backs that compartmentalize passengers. However, the text of the proposed Hawai‘i bill quotes a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that found that approximately one-third of the fatal crashes between 1977 and 1992 occurred from rollover and non-frontal crashes for which compartmentalization is not designed to provide protection.
To revive a similar bill for the next legislative session, you can contact your state Senator or Representative to let them know of your concerns.