Mom fighting to push seat belt bill out of committee

LINCOLN, Neb. Seat belts on school buses isn’t a new concept, nine states currently have laws that require at least newly purchased buses to have them.

The most recent state to do so was Iowa.

It’s a far from a new idea in Nebraska but since 2002 many different versions of a bill that would make this happen have failed in the unicameral.

In 2001 a bus carrying the Seward High School Band crashed through a guard rail and fell 60 feet, three people died including Dr. Dawn Prescott’s son Benjamin.

Since that day she’s been fighting for change.

“He was very well loved,” said Prescott. “He had a nickname smiles because he was always smiling.”

Benjamin was just 14 when he died.

“The pinball idea is the best way I can describe the way all of the bodies flew around the cabin and just ended up in a heap,” said Prescott. “I was stepping over other people’s children just to get to my son at the front of the bus.”

Now 19 years later his mom is still fighting for legislation.

A bill in the unicameral would require schools buying new buses to have three point seat belts.

“He would still be alive today if he was wearing a three point belt,” said Prescott.

Lincoln Public Schools just bought 12 buses with three point belts and will add eight more next year.

The bill to make this a state-wide requirement has already failed in its various versions six times.

The most recent overhauled version, LB634, is from Omaha senator Robert Hilkemann.

“If a district has budgetary concerns they can opt out,” said Prescott.

Right now the bill is stuck in the Transportation Committee.

It needs five of eight votes to make it out and right now they’re not there.

“I would encourage anyone in the Lincoln area to urge those senators to push this out of committee so the rest of the state can get on board and get moving with providing these methods of safety for all children in Nebraska,” said Prescott.

Senator Hilkemann’s office says he hopes to make it his priority bill but to do so most effectively it would have to be voted out of committee by Friday.