Texas Watch

Taking Action on School Bus Safety

Taking Action on School Bus Safety

Earlier this year, a tragic Houston ISD bus crash killed two students. The bus lacked seat belts – just like most school buses on the road in Texas.

Seat belts save lives. Lawmakers passed a law in 2007 requiring that school districts install them, but they failed to supply the necessary funding. Eight years later, the majority of school buses still lack seat belts.

Why?

We’re trying to find out. We sent the following request to the Texas Education Agency this week to learn more about the safety of our buses and the security of our students.

It’s time to prove that we take our students’ safety seriously and work to prevent tragedies like the one in Houston.

To Whom It May Concern:

Texas Watch is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that works on a range of public policy issues, including matters related to public safety. Like you, we believe there is no higher priority than the safety and well-being of our children.

As you know, a school bus in Houston wrecked in September, tragically resulting in the loss of two students’ lives. The bus in that accident was not equipped with seat belts. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, the availability and use of appropriate seat belts on school buses saves lives, ensuring Texas students are kept safe and returned home to their families each day.

By virtue of state law, school districts across our state are required to submit a report to the TEA each year that details school bus accidents and injuries. The purpose of this letter is to gain a better understanding of this important information.

Under the Public Information Act (Chapter 552, Texas Government Code), we respectfully request that you please provide us with all available information (covering 2008 to the present) related to the following:

  1. Please provide a copy of the survey, detailing school bus accidents and injuries, which school districts and charter school operators are required to submit to the TEA each year. If the format or wording of the report has changed over the years, please provide all versions.
  2. Please provide a list or spreadsheet of school districts that have experienced a school bus accident, what year(s) the accidents occurred, and how many injuries and fatalities were reported in each accident.
  3. How many school buses in Texas have three-point seat belts? How many have lap belts? How many have no seat belts (not including the seat belt for bus drivers)? In which districts are these buses located? If you are able to specify when the individual districts implemented lap belts or three-point belts, this would be very helpful and much appreciated.
  4. How many students who were involved in an accident (but not injured) were wearing three-point seat belts? How many were wearing lap belts? How many were not wearing seat belts?
  5. How many serious injuries occurred on buses with three-point seat belts? How many on buses with lap belts? How many on buses with no seat belts (not including the bus driver seat belt)?

Please know that we appreciate all help you can provide in this regard. If you are unable to provide information for a specific request, please detail the reason in your response. For the sake of convenience, we would prefer to receive all responsive documents in electronic form (PDF and Microsoft Office documents if possible). If there is a charge associated with honoring our request, please inform us before processing the request.

Thank you again for your help in providing this important safety information.

 

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