Seat belts will be required on all school buses in California by 2035

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- This week Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1798, a bill that would require all school buses in California have seat belts with shoulder and lap belts by July 2035.

That is becoming a reality in many school districts already, Fresno Unified began preparing years ago.

"The school board invested $5 million in replacing dozens of our buses. So we have slowly but aggressively over the last few years replacing our bus fleet," said Miguel Arias, Fresno Unified School District.

Arias says Fresno Unified began to prepare for the transition years ago because of a change in state law back in 2004.

All school buses purchased in California have had seat belts since July 2004 or July 2005, depending on the design and size of the bus.

"Our busses are designed to be probably the safest vehicles on the roads. Both from the physical and engineering design that busses have and as well as the color," he said.

Fresno Unified already has 104 new buses with seat belts and will phase out old buses without seat belts long before the deadline.

"Purchasing a bus is actually a pretty long process, and our plan for the replacement of the remaining ten buses would have us replacing all the buses by 2022."

School districts in California have the option to either retrofit their old buses with seat belts before 2035 or purchase new buses with seat belts.

Fresno Unified thought the best option for student safety would to be purchase new ones.

Each new bus will cost about $200,000, and Fresno Unified invested in additional safety upgrades and features that include security cameras, air conditioning, Wi-Fi and use of compressed gas instead of diesel fuel.
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