Tennessee Lawmakers Call for Mandatory Seat Belts on School Buses
Five children died in a tragic school bus accident in Chattanooga on Monday, prompting multiple state legislators to call for laws that would require all buses in the state to be equipped with seat belts for children and students.
Per a report by WKRN.com, the first legislator to call for the mandatory seat belts was Rep. JoAnne Favors, D-Chattanooga, who announced on Tuesday that she plans to introduce a bill in January that would require seat belts to be on all school buses.
Another legislator—Rep. Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, said that he has petitioned the legislative legal office to support Favors’ legislation by writing a similar bill.
McCormick told reporters that the cost of the seat belts for buses throughout the state would pale in comparison to the lives that they could potentially save. An estimate shows that adding seat belts to school buses would cost between $12,000 and $15,000 per vehicle.
Governor Bill Haslam also said that parties should bring all options to the table to find ways to make school buses as safe as possible for children.
What Safety Features Are Available on Buses?
While the lack of seat belts on many school buses is controversial, school buses are designed and equipped with several safety features that both help prevent accidents and keep children safer in the event of accidents.
Some of the safety features and designs common in school buses include:
- Large windshields and mirrors to enhance driver visibility
Due to its size and long rectangular shape, driving a school bus can be difficult, especially in heavy traffic or when drivers need to make sharp turns. Children walking in front of and behind buses is another potential danger. To address these dangers, modern bus manufacturers have increased the size of windshields and mirrors to reduce the size of blind spots and allow drivers to more easily see pedestrians and vehicles in front of them.
- Yellow paint and reflective tape
In addition to making sure bus drivers can see their surroundings, bus manufacturers also design their vehicles to be seen by other drivers. Yellow paint was selected as the standard color for school buses in 1939 due to its ability to be easily seen at dawn and at dusk. In addition, many buses are equipped with reflective tape along their length, making them much easier to spot during the early morning and early evening hours.
- Warning lights and stop signs
Children are highly vulnerable when they enter and exit school buses—especially when drivers attempt to pass stopped buses. Warning lights were first installed on school buses in the late 1940s with additional lights coming in the 1968. In the 1950s, school bus manufacturers began adding stop signal arms that extend out from the vehicles and signal that all drivers behind them should come to a complete stop. Both safety features protect children at bus stops.
- Emergency exits
During accidents, buses can flip onto their sides or roofs. When that occurs, the primary exit may be blocked. Emergency exits are often located on both sides of school buses, at the back, and on the roof. These exits are designed to be easily operated and opened by children of all ages, making it easier for children to exit buses that have been involved in rollover or other types of serious accidents.
These safety features can help reduce the risks of accidents, but they can’t completely prevent them—and they also can’t make children safer during the initial impact of a bus accident. Because children are so vulnerable while riding school buses every day, it’s vital that bus drivers are highly trained and highly dedicated to their jobs, as a single mistake or act of negligence can put dozens of young lives at risk.
Was your child recently injured in a school bus accident that was caused by another person or party’s negligence? If so, you may be eligible to file a claim for compensation. To find out how the Nashville bus accident attorneys at Matt Hardin Law can assist you during this time, just dial (615) 200-1111 or complete a free online consultation form.