With just weeks until students go back to school, Northwest Independent School District is rolling out an entire fleet of brand new school buses and each will be equipped with seat belts.
The 240 new buses, which will carry up to 77 students each, will transport the district's 12,000 students who ride the school buses.
Since 2017, it has become state law that every new school bus put into use in Texas must be equipped with three-point seat belts. They are the types of seat belts you see in personal-use vehicles and are familiar to students.
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“Research shows that riding a school bus to school and to home is one of the safest ways to get transportation and so this just got even safer,” district spokesperson Emily Conklin said.
The new fleet will be ready for use before Aug. 27, the first day of school, and the district’s 180 bus drivers are taking time this week to learn about their new buses.
“It gives me a great peace of mind. I can concentrate more on driving now that I know that my passengers are all buckled in,” said George Starks, who has driven a bus for nearly 10 years. “We heard about the horrific accidents with buses turning over and kids not secured. I don’t have that worry. Every one of my kids will be secured.”
The change will affect every student in the district. Even if students don’t ride the bus to and from school, they will likely ride one of these buses for field trips and athletics.
When leaving the school, bus drivers will walk up and down the aisle making sure the students are buckled in before the bus moves.
The district is launching a large education program about the new buses and seat belts. Parents are guided to a new YouTube video and there is a Facebook Live chat scheduled for parents to speak with leaders before the school year begins.