School Bus Accidents-Do Seat Belts Help?

There are only six states in the United States that require school bus seat belts, the states are: California, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, and Texas. These six states require large school buses weighing more than 10,000 pounds to have seat belts installed.

The Louisiana and Texas laws have not yet taken effect, and in New York, although the school bus must have seat belts, student passengers are not required to wear the seat belts. There have been very few U.S. studies on the benefits of school bus seat belts.

Charlie Hood, director of School Transportation for the Florida Department of Education sums up the reason for few studies best when he said, “Serious injuries and fatalities to school bus passengers are so few, especially when looking at one particular state, that data from any one state are insufficient to draw safety conclusions.”

School Bus Seat Belts Help Save Lives

Charlie has a point there are relatively few accidents nationwide, when you consider the number of students and distance driven. But one child’s death or serious injury is too many if school bus seat belts could prevent it.  There was one school bus accident in New York involving school bus seat belts. Marion Edick, New York’s state director of pupil transportation, said the school bus accident occurred when a dump truck collided with a bus carrying 44 students and eight adults.

Edick said the students were wearing lap belts at the time of the accident.  “The kids at the site of the impact were seriously injured.  There were no deaths,” she said.  “Some adults on the bus were not belted in and were seriously injured. I believe the fact that all the students and most adults were belted in that day did save lives and [prevent] more serious injuries. ”

The NTSB investigated the New York school bus accident and could not determine whether wearing the lap belts reduced the risk of injury to the passengers. In an accident in Milton, Florida in 2009, the driver of a 65-passenger bus, which was carrying 14 third grade students and three adult passengers, lost control of the bus after being struck from the rear by another vehicle.

School Bus Accidents Prove The Need For Seat Belts

After being struck, the school bus ran off the road while rolling over twice. The driver reported that the passengers were using the school bus seat belts when the bus left school. Two of the seat belts came unfastened during the accident and two passengers were injured, one seriously. No one else was injured and the NTSB concluded that “injury severity” in the Florida accident “was mitigated by the use of lap belts.”

This information comes from an OLR report titled, “School Bus Injuries, In States That Require Seat Belts On School Buses.” It appears that school bus accidents where the passengers used the school bus seat belts were less severe in terms of serious injuries and deaths. If you or a loved one have been injured in a school bus accident, please contact a personal injury lawyer at The Law Offices of Nadrich & Cohen, we can help you.

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