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Attorney Amy Witherite of Witherite Law Group: Advocating for School Bus Safety in Texas
[April 02, 2024]

Attorney Amy Witherite of Witherite Law Group: Advocating for School Bus Safety in Texas

Attorney Amy Witherite, has raised concerns over the lack of three-point seat belts in all Texas school buses, calling it a critical safety issue that demands immediate attention. Advocating for child safety, Witherite emphasizes the urgency of ensuring that every Texas school bus is equipped with proper seat belts to protect young passengers.

"It's a crime all Texas school buses don't have seat belts," notes Witherite, highlighting that while seat belts are mandatory in cars, not every school bus in Texas provides this crucial safety measure. The statistics from the Texas Department of Transportation underscore the severity of the situation, with 2,305 school bus crashes in 2022 alone, resulting in seven fatalities and 51 serious injuries.

The tragic accident in Buda, Texas, served as a reminder of the life-saving potential of seat belts on school buses. Video footage from the incident demonstrated how seat belts could have prevented tragic outcomes. The National Transportation Safety Board's recommendation for the installation of passenger lap/shoulder belts further emphasizes the importance of this safety feature.

Witherite also references the legislative efforts in Texas, including Ashley and Alicia's Law, which aimed to address school bus safety following a tragic incident involving two Beaumont high school students in 2006. Despite initiatives such as Senate Bill 693, which mandated seat belts on newer buses, many older buses still lack this essential safety feature.

"The legislation only requires three-point seat belts on buses from model year 2018 or later, leaving many older buses without proper safety restraints," explains Witherite. "Given Texas' substantial budget surplus, allocating a fraction of these funds toward outfitting all school buses with three-point seat belts is not just a prudent investment but a moral imperative."

As of the end of 2023, Texas boasted a budget surplus of $32.7 billion. With 50,000 school buses in Texas, retrofitting older buses with seat belts would cost approximately $250 million. Witherite urges policymakers and school districts to prioritize children's safety by utilizing available resources to implement this vital safety measure.

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