The Washington State Senate is debating whether to pass Senate Bill (SB) 5054, which would put seat belts on all public and private school buses. A hearing was held before the Senate Transportation Committee January 25th, but no action taken yet.

17 states have introduced legislation that would require belts on buses. California, Florida, New Jersey, Texas, Louisiana and New York have some sort of seat belt requirement in place already.

The Washington law, if passed, would require seat belts for all riders on all public or private school buses purchased or put into service after the law goes into effect. The bill doesn't say anything about retrofitting existing buses with belts.

Opponents say this law puts too much liability on the driver, who cannot police the children and make sure they stay buckled. They say an enforcement adult or teacher would have to monitor the students. Requiring the driver to do so would distract him or her from watching the road.

Supporters say fatalities could be prevented by having students buckled up. Since the Transportation Committee Hearing, no new progress has been reported.