Children’s School Buses Need Seatbelts – Now
July 16, 2017
According to an investigation conducted by PBS, millions of kids ride on a school bus every day and, usually, it is the safest option for transportation. However, many school buses lack seatbelts, and in the case of an accident, this proves to cause serious injuries and fatalities.
In the last year alone, there have been several bus accidents where children died or were seriously hurt. In early May of this year, an 11-year-old boy died after his school bus flipped over. And yet, it remains in the hands of local school districts to decide whether to install seatbelts on buses because the federal government does not require it. Shockingly, many decide against it since bus accidents are fairly uncommon, regardless of the fact that children lose their lives too often as a consequence.
Although traveling in buses may be safer than in a car, one study showed that more than 60,000 buses are involved in accidents every year. The data showed that 14,000 of the accidents resulted in a person being injured, and 325 of them were fatal. The study found that one major risk behind accidents is when an untrained or unskilled driver is operating the vehicle. Distraction can be a major force behind bus dangers as well.
Installing seatbelts on buses does indeed cost money – about $8,000 per vehicle. The former administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) advocates for three-point seatbelts on every single bus across the country. His reason: to increase the chances of saving a child’s life in the case of a bus accident.
However, part of the reason that many school districts opt against installing seatbelts on buses my be because the NHTSA itself has claimed that large school buses without seatbelts don’t pose serious enough risk of injury or death to warrant the implementation of a federal safety mandate. The NHTSA says that it has not found substantial evidence to support requiring seatbelts, regardless of the fatalities that have occurred across the country.
Seatbelts are always important, but they can be especially lifesaving in the case of rollover accidents since they help to keep passengers in their seats. PBS interviewed a woman who was in a high school bus accident. Three of her classmates died and she suffered permanent injury to her arm. The accident caused the school bus to roll over, and none of the students were wearing seatbelts since the bus had none installed.
Data shows that school buses can be safer during an accident where there is a frontal crash – that is, where the bus stays stationary on the road. This is because school bus seats are particularly close together, allowing for most passengers to stay in their seats in the case of a collision. But without seatbelts during an accident involving a rollover, data shows that test dummies often fly out of their seats, which makes them susceptible to serious bodily injury and harm.
Although school bus crashes may not be commonplace, the reality is that when they do happen, especially in the case of a rollover, children are vulnerable to serious injuries and death because of the lack of seatbelts. So far, only seven states require that buses have them, meaning that millions of kids get on buses every day without adequate safety features. Even worse is that it seems most states don’t require seatbelts on buses so that they can save money.
In recent years, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has pushed for stricter safety regulations on buses. The board has lobbied to increase occupant protection and implement advanced technologies such as forward-collision warning as well as tire pressure-monitoring systems. The National Safety Council (NSC) supports the idea of installing seatbelts on buses.
Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP Pursue Compensation for Injured Parties
If you or a loved one has been injured in a school bus accident, our personal injury lawyers in Philadelphia are happy to answer your questions and review your case for free. Galfand Berger has offices located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Reading and Lancaster, and we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.