House Education Committee approves McCabe bill to keep kids safe on school buses

This week, the House Education Committee approved a bill sponsored by Rep. Gina McCabe that would help keep students safe while they ride on the school bus.

House Bill 1246 would require all school buses manufactured or assembled after Sept. 1, 2019 to be equipped with a shoulder harness-type seat belt. After that date, every school bus would also be required to have automated school bus safety cameras used to detect 'stop paddle' violations and other vehicle infractions.

McCabe, who introduced the bill last year, said she has addressed concerns some lawmakers had over funding for seat belt and camera installations.

“I wouldn't sponsor this bill if it was going to financially burden our school districts or negatively impact the state budget,” she said.

Revenues collected from enforcing 'stop paddle' violations would help fund seat belt installation and school bus replacement incentives, as well as assist law enforcement agencies in providing additional officers who can help enforce infractions in school safety zones.

In just one day in 2016, 1,566 drivers were reported illegally passing school buses. If caught, the penalty for doing so is $419.

McCabe says that in order to avoid injuries and fatalities, children need to hear a consistent message about when to buckle up.

“It's been said that in the event of a school-bus rollover or collision, kids are like 'clothes in a dryer,'”  said McCabe, R-Goldendale. “From the time a baby is brought home from the hospital until a child's first day of school, parents always tell their children to use a seat belt when they're riding in a car. However, when they get on the school bus, the same rules don't apply. Let's send a consistent message to our children to buckle up, regardless of whether they're riding in a car or a bus.”

Six states — California, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, and Texas — currently require seat belts on school buses.

The bill has been referred to the House Appropriations Committee for further consideration.


Washington State House Republican Communications