2014 National School Bus Safety Week: October 20-24

 In Personal Injury

I have always bschool buseen curious why school buses don’t have seatbelts. Of course, this led me to seek answers. My question is simple; why is it the law for everyone to be buckled up in their car, yet we put our young, fragile children on school buses without them?

We all know that seatbelts save lives. We’ve been told this over and over again. From government surveys to the local news, we are constantly being reminded that seatbelts prevent injuries and death.

Unfortunately, approximately 26 million young American children board school buses each day, chances are many of them will be riding without seatbelts. According to surveys, only about 20% of the nation’s almost 500,000 school buses have seatbelts available.

As it turns out, only six states have passed laws requiring school buses to be equipped with three-point seatbelts.

Florida Law Point:

As of January 1, 2001, Florida law requires only newly purchased school buses to be equipped with seatbelts. In addition, Florida Statute 316.6145 requires students to use these seat belts, stating, “Each passenger on a school bus that is equipped with safety belts or restraint system shall wear a properly adjusted and fastened safety belt at all times while on the bus is in operation.”

Sadly, we can all agree that not all school buses come equipped with seatbelts. Even if they do come with seatbelts they may not work to protect our children in the same way. For example, in Florida the seatbelts found in some school buses do not have a traditional three point seatbelt. On the other hand, they are a two-point lap belt system, which do not protect the torso as well.

Currently, there is a growing rift between National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The NHTSA is of the opinion that school bus travel is statistically safer than any other form of ground transportation, even without seatbelts. However, the NTSB, a separate government entity, emphatically states that more can be done to protect our young children.

Our office advocates the use of seatbelts in all forms of ground transportation. If you or someone you know has been hurt on a school bus or other bus, please feel free to contact me to discuss what rights and remedies you may have available to you or your loved one. We believe in safety and we believe in protecting our young scholars.

Useful websites

The Florida department of Education: http://www.fldoe.org/transportation/

School Board Transportation: http://www.palmbeachschools.org/

Safe Routes to School: http://www.saferoutesinfo.org/

Community Traffic Safety Teams (CTST): http://www.dot.state.fl.us/safety/ctst/safetykids.shtm 

Let’s Protect Our Children… Seatbelts Save Lives.

Images courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net by Gualberto107

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