The Center for Auto Safety and the National Coalition for School Bus Safety recently petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to require seat belts on school buses. The agency's decision not to act on the request came as a shock to many.
"It just confirms the long history of NHTSA in opposition to child restraints in school buses," Arthur Yeager of the school bus coalition recently told the Washington Post. "There is a certain hypocrisy in their supporting seat belts in virtually every other type of vehicle under their control except for school buses."
NHTSA maintains that large buses are some of the safest vehicles on the road, with a fatality rate six times lower than passenger vehicles. Still, an average of 19 children die each year in bus accidents, 5 while on board and 14 in loading zones.
Because school buses are designed with safety in mind, the high-backed seats are heavily padded and protect passengers in the event of a crash. Experts say that seat belt installation in each bus would ultimately cost each state millions of dollars. Drivers on a strict schedule often have a difficult time enforcing seat belt rules with dozens of young passengers. Despite those difficulties, Texas (TX) and California (CA) already require school bus seat belts.
As a Hampton Roads car accident attorney, I've seen plenty of bad traffic accidents, and buses aren't immune to wrecks. Seat belts, despite their cost and the difficulty of ensuring consistent use, should be considered by our local government for school buses. Our children's lives are just too precious to risk.
About the Editors: The Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm, which has offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as pro bono services.
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Thank Heaven!! This means I can keep doing what I love to do-- Driving a School Bus full of America's Most Precious Cargo. I have always maintained that I will hang up my keys when seat belts become mandatory in my state. Imagine being the one person responsible for making sure those belts release in a fire or if the bus were to become submerged in water? Double the horror if you, the driver, were knocked unconscious and could not get the children out. Thank you NHTSA for denying this ongoing request. I know it goes against everything we are ever taught about riding in a motor vehicle. The statistics speak for themselves in regards to bus safety. I'd rather my child be on a school bus than in my own family car. School buses are THAT safe.
Thank you for sharing. You make your point very well it sounds like you have the experience to know.
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