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TN lawmaker to propose new seat belt legislation

MEMPHIS, Tenn.-- In the wake of the bus crash in Chattanooga that left five children dead and many others in the hospital lawmakers are speaking out.

Tennessee Representative Joanne Favors said the tragedy in Chattanooga is prompting her to propose legislation requiring seat belts on school buses when the general assembly reconvenes in January.

The head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said three point seat belts like the kind we use in our vehicles, across your shoulder and waist, should be on school buses.

"We know that seat belts will save lives if we put one for every kid on every school bus," said Mark Rosekind, NHTSA Administrator.

In a news conference Tuesday in Chattanooga, the NTSB said they recommend school districts consider seat belts as they buy new buses, saying even lap belts help.

Right now there's no federal mandate.

The biggest concern is children might not be able to get their belt undone after a crash.

However parents said they believe seat belts are a must.

"I'm going to assume they were saying it was a safety issue for kids being able to exit buses quickly but obviously there are other accidents that happen where kids need to be restrained," said Victor Henry, a parent.

The NHTSA estimates four children die every year in school bus crashes. They estimate seat belts would cut that number in half.

"The belts are good and they are certainly very good in a rollover where you might be ejected if you did not have that belt," said Ken Saczalski, a crash investigator.

Last year state Senator Lee Harris and other lawmakers drafted a bill requiring seat belts on newly purchased buses in the state of Tennessee but it didn't go anywhere.