17 States Propose School Bus Seat Belts
At least 17 states are eyeing to require school buses to have seat belts. These states include Arkansas, Connecticut, Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, and Utah.
Lawmakers in Washington, in particular, have recently introduced a bill that would mandate all public and private school buses to be equipped with seat belts. Likewise, Kansas was prompted to push the same after the deadly Chattanooga crash. The latter happened in November 2016, which killed six elementary students. It was found out that the bus was going about 20 miles over the speed limit at the time.
While the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has long maintained and firmly believed that even without seat belts, school buses are the safest mode of transportation for children, which can be attributed to the vehicles’ design, it has changed its position and expressed that seat belts save lives in cars and buses alike. In fact, NHTSA is now working with the states doing mandate seat belts on school buses to learn ways on how to deal with costs and other factors.
Moreover, advocates of seat belt mandates strongly argued that design is not enough to protect kids.
- From 2003 to 2012, 174 school-age children were killed in school-transportation-related crashes. Fifty-five were occupants of school transportation vehicles while 119 were pedestrians.
- From 2004 to 2013, 1,214 of the 340,039 fatal motor vehicle traffic crashes were classified as “school-transportation-related” or merely .4%.
- On average, approximately 134 people die in school-vehicle-related crashes each year.
- More than half of teens and adults who were killed in crashes in 2014 were unrestrained at the time of the crash.
- In Kentucky, there were 864 collisions involving a school bus in 2014, which resulted to three fatalities and 293 injuries.
Safety in School Buses
In Kentucky, there’s no law that requires school buses to have seat belts. It’s not even one of the 17 states advocating for the same. As a Kentucky Accident Attorney, I believe this is a significant issue that our lawmakers should consider.
While I support the fact that a school bus is the safest form of ground transportation, it would be great to have a discussion about seat belt regulations and the possible benefits of requiring school buses to be equipped with an additional safety restraint system. I hope that our lawmakers will soon propose a bill that would mandate school districts to install seat belts in its buses.