Governors Highway Safety Group Dislikes School Bus Rule's Funding

The Governors Highway Safety Association likes the overall message sent by Transportation Secretary Mary Peters in DOT's new rule to make school bus transportation safer. The rule would add seat belts and raise seat backs on many school buses, and it would allow school districts that add seat belts to apply for existing federal highway safety grant money to cover the cost. Christopher J. Murphy, chairman of the association, said GHSA is against the funding mechanism.

"GHSA commends Secretary Peters for the Department of Transportation’s proposed new safety rules for school buses. The general proposal to make school buses safer by requiring higher seat backs and setting new seat belt standards is welcomed by state highway safety offices." GHSA said in an online statement attributed to Murphy. "One part of the proposal that concerns GHSA is the section that applies to large school buses. According to Secretary Peters, school districts that decide to add seat belts could apply for existing federal highway safety grant funds to cover the cost of the additional safety equipment. While this use of grant funds is not new, the additional focus on the issue may cause states to be pressured to spend federal highway safety money for this purpose to the detriment of many competing highway safety needs. GHSA advocates spending highway safety money on the areas that will have the greatest impact on saving lives. These are programs directed at the three critical highway safety areas: drunk driving, occupant protection for the general population, and speeding. GHSA urges the Secretary to advocate new funding for school bus safety equipment with Congress in the Administration's transportation reauthorization proposal."

The statement says GHSA will submit formal comments on the proposed rule.

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