JEFFERSON CITY _ Seat belts would be required on school buses, under a measure being considered by Missouri lawmakers.
"I want Missouri to be a leader to protect children," said Rep. James O'Toole, D-St.Louis and sponsor of the bill. He presented his bill to the Motor Vehicle and Traffic Regulation Committee Tuesday.
Current law requires seat belts be installed and used in automobiles _ but not school buses.
"The seat belt is there for protection," O'Toole said.
But the bill has encountered some technical problems that O'Toole conceded have not been resolved.
The bill that it does not spell out who would be responsible for making children wear seat belts.
O'Toole added that the bill also is not clear whether it would require seat belts be installed in existing buses.
O'Toole said he did not intend for the bill to require installation in existing buses because of the high cost.
For new buses alone, the legislation would cost $120 million, O'Toole said.
The bill in the present form needs a lot of work, said Committee Chairman Larry Thomason, D-Kennett. If O'Toole works on it, he could try to tack it onto a more encompassing safety bill, Thomason said.
"There is a lot of merit to the idea," he said.
Only one opponent appeared before the committee representing an organization called the Missouri Association for Pupil Transportation.
The cost of implementing this legislation would outweigh the safety it would provide, John Davis said.
"We already have seat-belts in small school buses," Davis said. "They don't move so fast and we feel that this new legislation is not going to make school buses safer. Seat belts in buses are not used because children are playing or want to know what is going on in the back."