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Deadly school bus crash renews Washington push for seat belts

New legislation could require Washington school buses to get seat belts.

Seat belts are not required in school buses in Washington state, but that could change after a deadly crash in New Jersey.

In May, a fifth grader and a teacher were killed when a dump truck ran into a school bus.

Following the wreck, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended every state enact laws requiring seat belts in school buses.

“I think it’s time to have the discussion,” said Washington State Representative Gina Mosbrucker, R-Goldendale.

Mosbrucker has introduced legislation twice before calling for seat belts to be mandatory on all new school buses.

She thinks the recent crash and the federal government’s recommendation could help the bill pass during the next legislative session.

The bill would not require school districts or taxpayers to pay for the seat belts.

Mosbrucker said if the state did a better job enforcing the $419 fine for drivers who ignore school bus stop signs, that revenue would pay for the seat belts.

Law enforcement would also get some of that fine money to pay for crackdowns, said Mosbrucker, who said her bill would make students safer on and off school buses.

“It’s the state’s responsibility to get kids to and from school safely,” said Mosbrucker.

A handful of school boards in the state have taken action on their own.

In Prosser, four of the district’s new buses this school year came with over-the-shoulder seat belts.

Adding the seat belts cost the district about $50,000, said Prosser School District Transportation Supervisor Bill Petersen.

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