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Lynn asks for additional funding to improve school bus safety

Staff Reports • Updated Apr 4, 2018 at 2:00 PM

NASHVILLE – State Rep. Susan Lynn recently asked for additional funding that will improve school bus safety in districts across Tennessee.

In February, Lynn, R-Mt. Juliet met with Gov. Bill Haslam to garner his support of a bill to protect students who rely on the bus to travel to and from school. As a result, Haslam announced he set aside $3 million in nonrecurring funds for grants in the amendment to the proposed new state budget. The grants would help school districts address the extra costs associated with buying buses equipped with seat belts.

Additionally, Lynn sponsored a bill that would require any bus bought on or after July 1 that is owned, operated or leased by a public or private elementary or secondary school system to be used to take students to and from schools or school-related events must be equipped with a restraint system. Additionally, the National Transportation Safety Board must approve the restraint systems for both the driver and all passengers.

Last year, Lynn traveled to Indiana to research the pros and cons of restraint systems on school buses. She observed a side-impact crash that involved a tractor-trailer traveling 35 mph and a school bus with crash test dummies inside. In the scenario, crash test dummies were both belted and unbelted. For those unbelted, the crash proved fatal. Those that were belted in remained safely restrained.  

Lynn said she prioritized the safety and well being of students who depend on school buses as part of their daily transportation.

“Every day, we count on our buses and drivers to get our children to school and back safely, and I am grateful that Gov. Haslam has allocated additional funding as part of his budget amendment that will help us better protect our kids,” said Lynn. “He will forever be remembered as the governor who improved school bus safety, and I am honored to have worked with him in an effort to begin addressing this paramount issue.”

During the 2017 legislative session, Lynn supported a measure that required all school districts, as well as charter schools, to appoint a transportation supervisor to monitor and oversee student transportation. The supervisor must receive annual training developed from both the Tennessee Department of Education and the Tennessee Department of Safety and must also implement a school transportation policy adopted by the local board of education. 

Additionally, the law requires all new bus drivers to complete a driver-training program based on standards developed by the TDOE and the TDS prior to transporting any students. The law also increased the minimum age for individuals seeking to get a school bus operator endorsement license from 21 to 25.

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