There is no question that Seat Belts save lives in automobile accidents. In fact, they annually prevent as many as 15,000 car crash fatalities. Given the importance of this safety equipment, have you ever wondered why school buses don’t utilize this life saving technology? Why hasn’t the NHSTA made this a requirement for all school buses?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is better known as the government agency who has the responsibility of keeping drivers and motorists safe. This is obviously a very tough task and they have have always thought seat belts are the “single most effective way” of accomplishing that task. However, they have never made a requirement for school buses to be equipped with the “single most effective” piece of safety equipment. Talk about a glaring contradiction. It now looks like their long term stance of not requiring seat belts is coming to an end.
The administrator of the NHTSA, Mark Rosekind, has made a public outcry to start taking action about this situation. He wanted to clear the air right away and state “The position of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is that seat belts save lives. That is true whether in a passenger car or in a big yellow bus.” This strong statement came as a surprise to just about everyone involved, given the contradiction has existed for many many years. While this is definitely a step in the right direction, the statement does not do enough to address the problem.
They are not implementing anything that will make adding seat belts to old buses mandatory or at least requiring new buses to be equipped with seat belts. Mr. Rosekind mentioned this MIGHT be a possibility in the future, there is no guarantee of it happening and certainly no immediate action. Instead the NHTSA will be finding new ways to collect seatbelt data and discuss with the governors of 6 states who do require seat belts in all school buses.
So why has the NHTSA been against seat belt use in buses when it’s clear that it is the most reliable and effective form of safety equipment? This one won’t surprise you… the simple answer is MONEY. There is no easy way to add seat belts to old buses and they also add to the cost of already expensive new school buses. How much money are we talking about here? It is estimated that adding belts to existing buses would be approximately $20,000 if a three-point belts are used. The cost of adding seat belts to a new school bus would range from around $7,000-$10,0000. This may seem excessive, but remember that a new bus costs anywhere from $80,000-$100,000 and this would add minimal cost while exponentially increasing the safety of the vehicle for all children.
Since current school buses are without seat belts, it is crucial that the bus driver operates the vehicle as carefully as possible. While bus accidents are less common, they do happen, and they can cause severe injuries that require extensive medical treatment. If the bus driver fails to operate safely, an attorney will be needed to ensure that that compensation is given to the victims that were injured because of driver negligence.
If you are injured in an accident in Michigan, call The Clark Law Office for a free and confidential consultation (517)-347-6900.