By Rick Ritter

BALTIMORE (WJZ)– After a year full of tragic school bus accidents, state leaders are now pushing to change that. Rick Ritter has more on the battle in Annapolis.

For many parents, it’s hard to fathom that their child steps onto a school bus that doesn’t have seat belts. State leaders are now trying to battle through the fiscal humps to make it a reality.

From an accident in Tennessee that killed six kids, to similar collisions across Baltimore City. School bus accidents have hit communities hard nationwide.

“You never know when its going to happen,” Baltimore County senator Jim Brochin said.

Tragedies that have state leaders in Annapolis pushing for seat belts on every school bus. Senator Brochin says a new bill would mandate that all public and private school buses purchased after the bill takes effect is to have a safety belt for each rider.

“Kids are like projectiles and the ones who are belted in are the ones who literally walk away from serious crash,” Brochin said.

Statistics show that more than 23 million children use school buses every year and on average, at least six die in school bus crashes as passengers.

But with the life cycle of buses at typically 12 years, buses bought before the bill would still be on the road without seat belts.

Once they hit the 12-year mark, the new bill would come into play.

“It’s when the life cycle of your particular bus runs out, is it soon enough? Of course not but there’s always a balance down here in Annapolis,” Brochin said.

A balance many believe will play a crucial role in saving children. Senator Brochin said some have opposed the bill including some school bus companies and former school bus drivers.

A hearing was held yesterday and Brochin hopes for a vote within the next few weeks and then a vote to the senate floor.

Maryland is one of more than a dozen states where school seat belt measures are on the legislative agenda this year.

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