This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Worries about money outweighed safety concerns as the House on Thursday voted down a bill that would have required seat belts on new school buses in Utah.
HB132 died on a 30-40 vote.
Critics complained that adding seat belts to new buses is estimated to cost about $10,000 per bus. Opponents argued that would lead school districts to buy fewer buses, which they said would worsen safety by forcing more children to walk.
"The science just isn't there" to show seat belts significantly improve safety in school buses, which he said are among the safest vehicles on the road, Rep. Timothy Hawkes, R-Centerville, argued. He noted that federal transportation safety agencies have not mandated their use on school buses.
But Rep. Dixon Pitcher, R-Ogden, countered the issue is a common-sense one.
"To say that seat belts don't help on a bus doesn't pass the giggle test," he said.
The bill's sponsor, Rep. Craig Hall, R-West Valley City, said, "The science is there," and said several federal officials have called for seat belts on school buses, even if they are not mandated.
Rep. Susan Pulsipher, R-South Jordan, said the bill would take away the ability of school districts to spend their limited money on other projects that may improve safety more including protecting children once they step off buses, which is where she said more injuries occur.
Hall said it is ironic that under Utah law, police may ticket parents who fail to ensure their children buckle up but many children are sent to school on buses without seat belts.