x

Fort Smith/Fayetteville News | 5newsonline KFSM 5NEWS | Get the local news and weather where you live from 5NEWS. Covering Fort Smith, Fayetteville, Bentonville, and all of Northwest Arkansas and the River Valley.

What Is The Seat Belt Law For Arkansas School Buses?

(KFSM) — After a new video showing a frightening school bus crash in Ohio circulated on social media, some are wondering what the laws are here at home. The vid...

(KFSM) — After a new video showing a frightening school bus crash in Ohio circulated on social media, some are wondering what the laws are here at home.

The video is a parent's worst nightmare. It shows the school bus rolling on its side after getting hit by a car that failed to stop at a red light. Many of the students on board were rushed to the hospital.

When parents send their kids off to school each day, they trust they’ll get there and return home safely. Arkansas is one of only eight states with a law that specifically requires buses to have seat belts.

Arkansas law requires school buses to have seat belts, but the law really relies on you to take the initiative.

Governor Asa Hutchinson signed the school bus seat belt bill into law in 2017, but that doesn’t mean your student is buckling up on their way to school each day.

"We sit here and think ''well, this could never happen in Arkansas' or 'it could never happen in my school district' but it can happen, and the sad part is, it's just a matter of time before it does I'm afraid," said former State House Representative Mark McElroy.

McElroy sponsored the original school bus seat belt bill in 2014, six years ago, at the request of a fifth-grader.

“I said 'well it’s so expensive' and she looked at me and said 'well how much is my life worth?' and it hit me to the core then,” McElroy said.

The bill didn’t come into law until 2017, but that doesn’t mean your student gets the chance to buckle up each time they board the bus. It requires you to specifically ask your school district to follow the law. It also gives you the power to petition your local school board to create a new tax to pay for the seat belts on old buses or buy new buses with seatbelts.

“It’s really sad of course the people are going to have to take the initiative. It’s up to the public,” McElroy said.

The bill requires 10% of a school district's qualified voters to submit a request to the district.

The Arkansas Department of Education says it is unaware of any school district that has implemented a tax to pay for seat belts on buses.

After the bill was signed in 2017, the Fayetteville School District added 10 new buses with seatbelts to its fleet.