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Should there be seatbelts on school buses? A Texas jury has answered with a resounding yes. From Waco, Texas, comes word of a verdict in what may be the first trial in the United States involving the lack of seat belts on a bus. The jury returned a $17.5 million verdict on Nov. 4. Plaintiffs alleged that the bus was defective in part because it did not include seat restraints. (David Hinton, et al. v. Motor Coach Industries, No. 2003-2308-4, Texas Dist., 170th Judicial Dist., McLennan Co.).

We need a public debate on the benefits and risks of requiring school children on buses to buckle up.

Australia is already considering the need for seatbelts on school buses. From Down Under’s All Things Tasmanian:

A national bus safety campaigner is urging all state governments to follow Western Australia’s lead and install seatbelts on all school buses.

Leon Hain is urging the other states to follow suit and says state transport ministers need to discuss the issue when they meet in Hobart on November 18.

The Gallop Government has bowed to public pressure and announced all new buses will be required to have seatbelts, while existing buses will have them retro-fitted on a priority basis.

The announcement comes two weeks after a school bus crash south of Perth, in which seatbelts were credited with saving lives.

Mr Hain says the other states need to follow WA’s lead.

“The other states have got no excuse whatsoever, although Victorian Transport Minister Bachelor said he’s got no intention of doing it full stop. Well, Gallop said that two weeks ago didn’t he?” he said.

“I would now challenge every state premier and transport minister – especially the state transport ministers going to Hobart – either match what Gallop’s doing or alternatively if they disagree let’s have a public debate arranged by the media.

“I’ll be in it, I hope they will.”

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