When your kids are in the car, the first thing you probably say is, “Is everyone buckled in?”
All states have mandatory seatbelt laws in vehicles. But what about school buses? If we know that seatbelts save lives, why are our children not strapped in on most school buses?
Currently, there are six states that require seatbelts on school buses – California, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York and Texas. The state of Tennessee does not have this mandatory law.
California is the only state that requires a lap belt as well as shoulder belts on all newly manufactured buses. According to Governing.com, “Florida, New Jersey and New York call for less stringent lap belts. Louisiana and Texas also passed laws requiring safety restraints, but neither legislature is allocating funding.”
Other states are following suit and pushing for seat belts to be in new buses only. Retrofitting the older buses is a difficult process because the seat frames have to be replaced. It is estimated that it would cost eight to fifteen thousand dollars for each bus to be retrofitted with seatbelts.
Across the country a safety process called “compartmentalization” is what many buses rely on while transporting their students to and from school each and every day. Compartmentalization is the theory that close padded seats help support the student in case of a bus accident.
However, students are still very vulnerable if the bus rolls over or is hit from the side.
The controversy about school bus seat belts continue as opponents argue that seatbelts could hinder an evacuation of a school bus or that the kids could possibly use the belts as weapons. They also believe that seat belts will not alleviate all fatalities.
But the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that installing the seat belts could save at least two lives per year. Aren’t the lives of 2 children per year worth the cost?
Only time will tell if eventually all school buses will be equipped with seatbelts.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a bus, truck, motorcycle or car accident, you may be in need of an expert personal injury attorney.
In order to be fully prepared to meet with your attorney, read: Consultation Preparedness Checklist: 7 Documents Your Attorney Needs.