The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has instructed states and local school districts to install three point seat belts on every school bus in a move to stem the safety risks of school children during transportation. However, the policy shift by the federal government has not yet been implemented in regulation as the agency hopes that local governments will voluntarily make the requested changes.
Federal law requires small six or twelve seat school buses to have seat belts because their low weight leads them to be classified the same as cars and light trucks. But larger buses were considered safer in a collision and the decision to add seat belts fell to the states. Only a handful required seat belts.
The addition of seat belts to school buses is not expected to be easy. The cost of adding belts has been estimated in the billions at a time when school budgets are strapped for cash. And there are concerns that incorrect usage by children will lead to an increase in neck or abdominal injuries.
Bus transportation is already considered one of the safer ways to get to school, with substantially more fatalities coming from walking or passenger car transportation. But a number of high profile accidents involving buses and concerns about the adequacy of protective measures after children have been thrown from the bus have led to the new policy shift.
If you have questions about the liability of the school district or another driver for an accident involving injury to your child where the bus does not have seat belts, please contact one of our personal injury attorneys by filling out our contact form or calling 1-800-590-4116.