The Avon Lake City Council on Monday evening approved a resolution that will offer support to a city school district pilot program bringing seat belts to school buses.
The resolution, which passed unanimously, puts a further stamp on the program already brought forth by the Avon Lake City School District which approved the purchase of two replacement school buses equipped with lap-shoulder seat belts. The program will also "provide firsthand knowledge of the advantages and/or disadvantages of safety belt usage on buses and will allow the Avon Lake City School District Board of Education to determine what specifications are necessary in future replacement buses."
During Monday night's meeting, local activist Rudy Breglia of the School Bus Seat Belt Safety Alliance was specifically lauded for his efforts to get the program approved, with Ward 4 Councilman David Kos saying, "All of us up here on City Council have recognized how deeply he cares about this."
"It's one thing to care about things, but it's another to actually put the work in, and the research, and everything else that he did to bring this issue," Kos added. "I'm very happy to follow in the footsteps of the Avon Lake school board tonight and approve this."
According to the resolution, 7,000 American children are injured every year in school bus crashes, with roughly five to six killed. In addition, while the NTSB has recently recommended all new buses be equipped with lap-shoulder seat belts, federal and Ohio law currently only require school buses weighing less than 10,000 pounds to be equipped with seat belts.
"The installation of seat belts in school buses is a substantial, recognized, and critical improvement for school bus safety," Breglia, who says he was inspired by a 2016 school bus crash that killed six children in Chattanooga, Tennessee, said Monday. "It really should be a priority for all of us."
Avon Lake now becomes the second local community to move towards seat belts for its school buses: Last December, Beachwood approved legislation that will require seat belts on all of its districts new buses.