Sen. Cullen urging Legislature to pass school bus seat belt mandate

Wednesday, retiring State Senator Tim Cullen (D-Janesville) sent a letter to colleagues in Madison asking them to keep working toward mandating seat belts in school buses. Cullen's bill would've done that last session, but it never made it to the Senate floor for a vote.

A September 2nd crash involving a school bus sent six high school volleyball players to the hospital. It happened in Pulaski, near Green Bay.

Senator Cullen says it's just another example of why seat belts should be on school buses like this.     \"I'm retiring but the issue is not. The need for seat belts is going to be just as great when I'm gone from here next year.\" Cullen said Wednesday.

His bill last session would've required new school buses to have seat belts. The bill was introduced with bi-partisan support, but was never voted on. \"It's the one thing that saves lives, and it's bizarre to me that we're actually debating this need.\" Cullen said.

The Wisconsin School Bus Association is on the other side of the debate. The organization's president, Jim Fey, testified against Cullen's bill during a hearing late last year. He said seat belts would limit how many students can fit in a school bus, forcing students to choose other, less safe, ways to get to school.

Cullen says this issue comes down to parents either being okay with no seat belts, or demanding their children are belted in. \"And we saw it i think in the reaction in Pulaski is that I think a lot of parents presume just like their cars, that there's seat belts in buses. How often do parents actually get on a school bus?\" Cullen said.

In Wisconsin only the Janesville School District has a mandate requiring it to buy new buses with seat belts installed. That was put into place when Cullen served on the school board in 2009.  

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