Proposed Federal Rule for School Bus Seat Belts, Safety

MORRISVILLE, N.C. (AP) - U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters is proposing new rules that would allow school districts to use federal highway safety funds to equip school buses with seat belts.

Peters says the rules also would require higher seat backs to better protect younger children during accidents when older children or adults get thrown from their seats.

Peters made today's announcement during a visit to an elementary school in Morrisville, North Carolina, which is among the first schools in the country to equip some of its news buses with seat belts.

All new small buses would be required to include seat belts within three years of the new rule. Those buses are more prone to rollover accidents.

Peters says if adopted, the new standards will apply to the country's 474,000 school buses.

Earlier this month, Governor Bob Riley's study group on school bus seat belts awarded a grant for a pilot program to see if belts will make kids safer on buses. Riley appointed the panel after last year's Huntsville school bus crash that killed four students.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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