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Lone Star Project Report

Burton and Huffines Don’t Want Kids to Click It

Republican Senators oppose seat belts on school buses

From the time they are first strapped into a car seat as infants and toddlers to their first driver’s education lesson as teenagers, kids are taught to buckle their seat belts. In Texas, drivers who don’t secure their kids safely in their seat belts can be fined up to $250 dollars for endangering children.
 
Seat belts save lives.  The Texas Department of Transportation confirms that drivers and passengers who buckle up are 45% less likely to die during a vehicle crash.
 
So surely all of our Texas state elected officials are making sure that the over one million Texas kids who climb aboard school buses each day are buckled up safely. Right?  Wrong. 
 
Last week, Republican State Senators Konni Burton (SD10 – Colleyville) and Don Huffines (SD16 – Dallas) broke with a bipartisan coalition of other Senators to oppose Senate Bill 693, a bill requiring seat belts in all new Texas school buses.
 
Burton and Huffines turn their backs on kids’ safety 
During the testimony on the seat belt safety law, Senate committee members heard from the parents of kids’ who were aboard the fatal 2006 West Brook bus crash that killed two young girls and injured 20 other students.   Now, ten years after that fatal crash, most Texas school buses still lack seat belts.
 
Last November, the head of the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration announced that the official position of the organization is that “seat belts save lives…whether in a passenger car or in a big yellow bus.”
 
Despite the testimony of non-partisan groups and  21 individuals supporting the seat belt safety bill – including the parents of kids involved in school bus accidents –  both Konni Burton and Don Huffines ignored the safety of kids and the pleas of parents and voted against requiring seat belts on new school buses.
 
Konni Burton’s record of bizarre ideology over common sense 
No one should be surprised that Konni Burton has put her own bizarre personal ideology over the safety of kids riding school buses.  During her short time in the State Senate, Burton has repeatedly ignored safety and common sense to impose her own narrow and inflexible point of view on Texas families, even when it puts them in danger. 
 
During her very first session in the Legislature, Burton blocked a bipartisan texting while driving ban that easily passed the Texas House and would have become law had Burton put public safety over stubborn ideology.   Now, two years later, even while public support for a texting while driving restriction grows and backing by important public safety advocates becomes stronger, Burton continues to lead the opposition to a commonsense texting while driving restriction. 
 
The Lone Star Project detailed Burton’s opposition in a report earlier this year, noting that in “2012, there were more than 90,000 traffic accidents in Texas caused by distracted driving. According to Texas A&M’s school of public health, states’ who implement texting while driving bans saw noticeable results including a 7 percent decrease in “crash-related hospitalizations.” 
 
The Burton bottom line
For Konni Burton, facts, the well-being of Texas families and basic common sense be damned.  Through nearly three years in the State Senate and two legislative sessions, Burton remains driven by a fringe and inflexible ideology that arrogantly presumes that she knows better than moms, dads, teachers, law enforcement or anyone else.