You would certainly never let your kids ride in your car without making sure they're properly wearing their seat belts. However, most parents across the country send their children off to school on buses that don't even have seat belts.
This is slowly starting to change. A new Texas law went into effect this September that requires new buses to have shoulder-to-lap seat belts installed in all seats. Six other states have enacted similar laws in recent years.
Why Don't All School Buses Have Seat Belts?
School bus wrecks resulting in rider fatalities are rare in the U.S. About six school bus passengers (excluding adult drivers) die in school bus crashes annually, compared to about 2,000 children who die in car wrecks every year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. While those statistics point to the general safety of school buses, it is important to realize that there are far fewer children being carried by school buses than by all other vehicles combined.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has recommended the seat belts in school buses for additional safety. If there is a way to make school buses even safer, why not do so?
The reason appears to be primarily cost, with cash-strapped school districts deciding against seat belts - which can cost $7,000 to $10,000 per bus - in favor of other student services. This translates to approximately 10 cents per day, per seat. However, when Texas passed a law in 2007 that provided funds to districts to offset the costs of seat belts, only a few districts took advantage of the funding. Some administrators were concerned about the logistics of requiring dozens of children to buckle up, as well as about a school's liability if students didn't buckle up, according to The Texas Tribune.
Will School Bus Seat Belts Save Lives?
The attorneys and team members at Burress Law all have children. Unfortunately, we have represented families of loved ones involved in multi-fatality school bus wrecks. At Burress Law, we unanimously believe it is much better to take a proactive approach when it comes to child safety. Save money anywhere else except child safety.
In addition to the possibility of saving lives during a bus accident, there could be other benefits to seat belts in school buses. For example, some safety advocates think getting children into the habit of buckling up on the way to school could make them more likely to buckle up while riding in other vehicles.
If your child is ever hurt in a motor vehicle wreck, whether they are riding in a school bus or a private vehicle, it is important to talk to a personal injury law firm like Burress Law to understand your family's rights.