RI lawmaker pushes for seat belts on school buses

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Following the tragedy in Tennessee where five children were killed after a bus flipped on its side and wrapped around a tree, a local state representative announced plans to introduce legislation that would require seat belts on school buses in Rhode Island.

“As a parent with children that are 13 and 11 years old that ride on buses,” said Rep. Robert Nardolillo, R-Coventry. “Immediately my heart was broken.”

Nardolillo says he has lots of parental support. He claims seat belts will prevent injury and death.

The Republican tells Eyewitness News he’s attempted to pass legislation twice before, but his efforts were unsuccessful.

“I would probably say [I had] almost 100% of the support of my colleagues in the House,” said Nardolillo. “I don’t have the answer why it didn’t pass.”

Those who oppose seat belts on school buses argue that they are too expensive. If passed, adding seat belts would cost roughly $6,000 to $8,000 per bus.

Critics also say it could make it more challenging to get kids out of their seats if the bus catches fire.

Rep. Nardolillo says the benefits outweigh the risks.

“We should have as much safety as possible for our kids,” he says.

Right now, six states require buses to have seat belts.