AUSTIN, Texas - Buckling up is no longer reserved for your personal vehicle. A new state law now requires new school buses to be equipped with three-point seat belts.
Some school districts, like Austin ISD, saw it as a win.
"I like the idea of the seat belt to begin with,” said AISD transportation executive director Kris Hafezizadeh. “When the kids get inside our cars, what do we ask them to do first? Put on your seat belt. So, why not carry the culture to our school buses?"
While some say it's too good to be true, especially if your budget is tight. The Texas Association of School Boards said some districts came forward with budget concerns.
"For some schools, it may be easier to attain those seat belts if they can roll them into bond packages they're currently running or they can put it into other budget items,” said TASB’s Dax Gonzalez. “For some districts, they just can't afford to put seat belts into school buses."
Three-point seat belts are similar to the ones in your personal car and having these retrofitted into school buses can get pretty pricey.
"It's about $6,000 to $7,000 per bus," said Hafezizadeh.
"It's between $8,000 to $10,000,” said Manor ISD’s Zoheb Hassanali.
For districts that have a have a hundred buses in their fleet, that's about a million dollars.
"Money could be better spent on improving unloading and loading zones as opposed to putting seat belts in school buses," Gonzalez suggested.
Lawmakers did give districts the option to opt out if they can't afford it. Still - it's a learning curve for those who opt in.
"Introducing seat belts into the equation actually creates some new issues where you have to make sure that the kids are wearing the seat belts and that the seat belts fit the kids," Gonzalez added.
While the new law could put a dent on school districts' funds, supporters say added protections are worth it.
"We know it's very expensive, but, at the end of the day, our top priority is the safety of our students on the roads," said Hassanali.
Under the new law, school districts that opt out are required to vote on it in a public meeting.
School buses for special needs students have always had seat belts. Safety officials say, because the vehicles are smaller, the children are more likely to be injured in collisions.