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School Bus Safety Comes Into Question After Multiple Crashes

Posted by attorney Christopher Zachar

Three separate school bus accidents across the country may have some parents wondering just how safe school buses are. According to local reports, at least two of the three buses involved in crashes Monday did not have passenger seatbelts. But it's not required in all states on school buses.

On Monday in Indianapolis, two people were killed in the crash, a young female student and the bus driver. Ten others were injured when the bus slammed into a bridge.

Just outside of Columbus on Monday, police said several kids were injured when a bus veered off the side of the road and tipped.

In Washington State, a school bus overturned after it crashed. All 38 kids on board were hurt but no injuries were life-threatening.

The exact circumstances surrounding all three of these accidents are being investigated.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, seat belts on buses are needed. It said 17,000 kids in this country are treated in emergency rooms every year after being injured on buses. To put that in perspective, the government said schools buses transport 23 million kids a day.

As for keeping kids safe, in 2009, the feds ruled that seatbacks in school buses had to be higher. But as far as seatbelts go, that is left up to states and individual school districts to make a decision.

Q. What states require seat belts on school buses?

California is the only state requiring lap-shoulder belts on new buses. New York, New Jersey and Florida require lap belts on new buses. Starting in 2010, all new buses purchased by Texas school districts will require lap-shoulder belts. Each year, 20 to 30 states have bills calling for seat belts to be mandatory on new school buses. Most proposed bills are driven by grassroots activity that compels a local representative to author a bill. Some states are waiting for NHTSA to revise current FMVSS 222 to include a performance standard for lap-shoulder belts.

The National Highway Safety Administration said school buses are safe. It said 800 school-aged children are killed each year in car accidents during school travel hours but only 20 are school bus related. What exactly does that mean???

Does that mean that 20 deaths of children are an acceptable number? Could all 20 have been prevented with seat belts?

Granted, these buses are big, but we all know that kids do some funny things when riding on a school bus that they do not do or can’t do in a car (stand up, turn around and talk to the kids behind them, change seats in the middle of a transport, etc…).

These are KIDS. These are the sector of human beings who need supervision, direction and discipline. Generally ALL BUT ONE of the persons on buses are KIDS. We require seat belts in cars. It is illegal for a front seat passenger and driver to ride without one, and it is illegal in Arizona for children under the age of 16 to ride in a car without having a seat belt on. Why aren’t the standards more strict and more protection for SCHOOL BUSES?


In my opinion, any unnecessary injuries or deaths are not worth it, especially when it comes to School Bus Accidents. OK, it may cost some money to retrofit the buses, but really, isn’t that one of the best costs we can incur to prevent unnecessary injuries or deaths?

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