The state Legislature passed a bill this year that would require the creation of a joint task force to review public school bus safety in Missouri. Starting in 2022, the work would be required to include analyzing entrance and exit safety, the effectiveness of seatbelts, and other related topics determined by the task force chairperson.

State Sen. Greg Razer (D-Kansas City) speaks on the Missouri House floor in May 2017 (photo courtesy of Tim Bommel at Missouri House Communications)

The effort was led by state Senator Greg Razer, D-Kansas City. He successfully attached the language to another bill.

“If you look at statistics around the nation, there are far too many incidents of students who find themselves in harm’s way either getting on or off the school bus each day. This was during the Trump Administration a report was done,” says Razer. “Thankfully, the state of Missouri was a fairly safe state. National statistics show that the most dangerous moment is entering and exiting the school bus and cars that just don’t obey those stop signs and fly around the buses. I think it’s worthwhile for us to try to figure out why it’s not happening as much in Missouri – is there something we are doing right or have we just been very fortunate? If that’s the case, what do we need to be doing to make sure our kids continue to be safe.”

Under the legislation, the task force would include seven members who must meet at least three times each year to develop an annual report. The panel must submit its report to the governor and Missouri Legislature by December 31 each year.

“I think there are some new technologies that are out there that perhaps we need to take a look at to make sure people are stopping when the school buses stop and that stop sign is out, making sure that our kids get on and off the bus safely, and just a task force for us to sit down, put our heads together, figure out what are we doing right, where can we improve, and how do we make sure that we are always reeducating new drivers,” he says. “I know some other states have put cameras on the sides of buses so you can kind of capture the license plate of someone who might speed around a school bus and break that law so you can reach out to them and say, ‘Hey you could have really hurt a kid right then.’ We can’t have cops following every school bus.”

The legislation, House Bill 661, is now up to Gov. Mike Parson to sign or veto.

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