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EPISD school buses roll in with new seat belts

The seat belt complies with a new Texas law that goes into effect this month. All Texas public schools have to include the seat belts when they buy a new bus.

A new Texas law is requiring all new school buses to have a three-part seat belt. El Paso Independent School District got ahead of the law in this year's school bus purchases.

“As part of the 2016 bond we already had planned purchasing new buses,” Melissa Martinez, EPISD spokesperson, said.

With that purchase came some new features.

“Our new buses will have the three-point seat belt, which is from your shoulder to your waist and across your lap,” Martinez said.

The seat belt complies with a new Texas law that goes into effect this month. All Texas public schools have to include the seat belts when they buy a new bus.

“Because we already had plans to purchase new buses, we knew this was something the community had already asked us for,” Martinez said.

EPISD already has eight buses with three-point seat belts that will start routes soon. Thirty more buses will arrive over the next few weeks. A total of 81 will be added to the district's fleet over the next few years.

Eighth-grader Sonia Estrada had stopped riding the bus.

She said the old seat belts were the reason why.

“I'd rather tell my dad to pick me up because there's seatbelts of course and it's way safer for me,” Estrada said.

“I'm like those kind of people that really get scared and all that, and I don't feel protected and all that,” Estrada said.

EPISD said student safety on buses is a priority.

“They're already made with safety features. For example, the seats are a lot higher than in a normal vehicle and there's also that extra padding,” Martinez said. “The seat belts obviously offer an additional support and safety mechanism that we know parents have been asking for for a long time.”

Sonia said the new belts may convince her to ride the bus again.

“I will give it a chance. I will wear the seat belt and see how it goes,” Estrada said.

EPISD plans to phase out older buses without the three piece seat belt as the new ones start rolling in to El Paso.

The Ysleta Independent School District and Socorro Independent School District said they don’t have plans to purchase new buses in the near future but they will comply with the new law when the time comes.

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