BILL SUMMARY for SB09-029
SENATE COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION
|Votes: View--> ||Action Taken: |
|Moved a prepared amendment to Senate Bill 09-029 (|
Moved that Senate Bill 09-029 be referred to the C
|Pass Without Objection|
11:10 AM -- Senate Bill 09-029
Senator Shaffer, prime sponsor, presented Senate Bill 09-029, concerning a requirement that people on a school bus wear safety belts. He said that seat belts keep children safer and that seat belt enforcement is an appropriate subject for state involvement. He noted that there are also seat belt requirements promulgated at the federal level. He said that he intends to amend Senate Bill 09-029 to eliminate a requirement for the retrofitting of buses. He said that bus drivers would be subject to no liability under Senate Bill 09-029 if a child removes his or her seat belt and the bus is subsequently involved in an accident. He said that his intent is that Senate Bill 9-029 apply only to public school buses. He commented on training requirements in Senate Bill 09-029. He commented on the consequences to children of being unrestrained in a bus accident. He noted that the state has not had a fatality on a bus since 1989.
The following persons testified in regard to Senate Bill 09-029:
11:33 AM -- Rob Schmedeke, representing the Colorado State Pupil Transportation Association, opposed Senate Bill 09-029. He said that it is unclear that there is a safety benefit to adding the seat belt requirement. He said that his organization will withhold support until there is clear evidence of a safety benefit. He added that Senate Bill 09-029 will result in litigation and diminished bus service in school districts.
11:45 AM -- Kevin Schott, Colorado Association of School Executives, opposed Senate Bill 09-029. He said that 25 million students are transported on buses each year and that six deaths result annually from this travel. He said that it is statistically safer for a child to ride in a school bus than to approach a school bus. He said that student transportation is not required of school districts and that the potential exists for these services to be eliminated by school districts if it becomes too expensive. He said that the issue should be addressed locally, and that the regulation is unwarranted.
11:50 AM -- Dr. Libby Bailey, representing the Colorado Association of Elementary School Principals, opposed Senate Bill 09-029. She said that large school buses are compartmentalized and have high energy absorbing seat backs. She said that Senate Bill 09-029 may result in additional costs to hire a person to monitor belt use by students, and that the requirement for students to buckle up will slow bus routes. She said that Senate Bill 09-029 may lead to a requirement for the use of booster seats in buses. She said that loading and unloading of buses results in more child fatalities than riding in school buses.
11:54 AM -- Selena Silva, representing Children's Hospital, said that she is a passenger safety technician. She supported Senate Bill 09-029.
11:59 AM -- Ted Texter, representing the Teamsters Union, supported Senate Bill 09-029. He said that his union has many drivers who desired to come to the committee hearing on Senate Bill 9-029 today, but were unable to attend. He commented on the evolution of seat belt requirements in motor vehicles over the last 50 years. He said that it is critical that governments find the money for this safety measure.
12:09 PM -- Dr. Todd Porter, representing SAFE Kids, said that he practices pediatric medicine. He said that compartmentalization of buses provides incomplete protection in many crashes. He commented on studies conducted by the National Transportation Safety Commission, and results of studies revealing that seat belts provide optimal safety for children. He urged the committee to address nonfatal school bus injuries, rather than simply focusing on fatal accidents. He said that unconscious accident victims are unable to extract themselves from a bus.
12:16 PM -- Michelle Crawford, Lafayette, representing herself, said that she has two children in the Boulder Valley School District. She stated that she does not allow her children to ride on school buses that lack safety belts. She noted that drivers of buses are able to buckle up, but not their passengers. She said that many families have two parents working and do not have the option to drive their children to every event. She commented on federal studies of the effectiveness of compartmentalization of buses. She spoke of the children who are injured in school bus accidents. She commented on the cost of "raising seat backs," and noted that the federal requirement to raise the back of seats on school buses will be implemented. She said that there are currently six states that require seat belt use on school buses. She noted that this requirement has just passed the Wyoming legislature. She said that seat belt products are currently available to protect children on buses. She said that the cost of retrofitting a bus with seat belts is approximately $11,000. She said that she was informed by the Colorado Department of Education that the state replaces about 400 buses each year.
12:40 PM -- Rose Swemby, Longmont, representing herself, said that her son Kevin was the last child to die in Colorado as a result of a school bus accident. She said that her son was thrown through the windshield of the bus in which he was riding when the brakes failed on the bus. She said that 40 children were on the bus at the time, and that there were many injuries. She said that her son died unnecessarily, due to the cost of a seat belt system. She noted that the bus driver had driven the vehicle with the parking brake engaged, and that the smell of the brakes burning was noticed by persons near the bus when the children were boarding. In spite of this, she noted, the operator of the bus chose to continue loading.
12:45 PM -- Peg Ackerman, County Sheriffs of Colorado, supported Senate Bill 09-029 and said that seat belts save lives.
12:46 PM -- Ann Barkis, representing the Colorado Department of Education, said that the department has not taken a position on Senate Bill 09-029.
|TIME: || 12:52:51 PM|
|MOTION:||Moved that Senate Bill 09-029 be referred to the Committee of the Whole, as amended. The motion passed on a 5-1-1 roll call vote.|
Final YES: 5 NO: 1 EXC: 1 ABS: 0 FINAL ACTION: PASS
The committee meeting adjourned.