AVON LAKE, Ohio – The Ohio State Board of Education in Columbus heard testimony from Avon Lake’s school bus safety belt advocate, Dr. Rudy Breglia, on April 13. He was there to ask for a resolution from the board supporting seat belt installation trials in Ohio school buses similar to the trials already taking place in Avon Lake and Hudson due to Breglia’s ongoing advocacy.
Unfortunately, the board did not agree to the resolution.
Breglia spoke to the group sharing the same information he has shared with other groups for the past several years.
“In my testimony to the board I told them many states, safety organizations and school districts have decided to move forward and require and/or recommend lap-shoulder seat belts in school buses to protect their children.”
Breglia noted about 1,200 school bus crashes occur each year in Ohio alone.
“I also mentioned the federal research predictions on the annual reduction of children’s injuries and deaths from seat belt use in school buses, the advantages and the lack of disadvantages of lap-shoulder seat belts and their low cost.
“Costs for equipping school buses with lap-shoulder belts can amount to as low as $5 per student per year or less than 0.6 percent of the total annual cost of transporting a student.”
The board did not give Breglia specific reasons for not agreeing to a resolution at this time. Breglia said he believes they probably received feedback from the Emerging Issues and Standards Committee and it appears something in that feedback caused them to decline to support the issue with a resolution.
However, Breglia said, the president of the board, Laura Kohler, “did suggest that I direct my future efforts to Ohio legislators for my schoolbus safety concerns and funding issues. She said she believes the children’s safety is as important as education but she did not point me in any direction other than speaking to Ohio legislators.”
Board member Mark Lamonche commented in support of Breglia’s testimony, “Parity needs to exist with regards to children’s safety and school buses should be as safe as cars with regards to seatbelts.”
Another board member, Meryl Johnson, said Breglia, “noted the school district that is purchasing all their new schoolbuses with seatbelts is in her district and she would help me contact those school district officials. And, since children inspired this safety action, she said she will help mobilize a children’s letter writing campaign to Ohio legislators to express not only their own feelings of safety for themselves and their classmates, but also their disappointment that other school kids are not fully protected by seatbelts.”
Johnson said, “I hope that legislators will respond to this direct approach by our most precious cargo.”
As to even more action Breglia said he is taking he commented, “I am disappointed that the board will not take any action on this important children’s safety issue. However, I have sent an invitation for me to make a presentation to any school districts with which the 19 board members are associated.”