17 States Considering Making Seat Belts Mandatory on School Buses

17 States Considering Making Seat Belts Mandatory on School Buses

Lawmakers in 17 states are considering bills that would require all school buses to be equipped with seat belts.

Per a report by the Associated Press, California, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, and Texas already have seat belt laws for school buses, and 17 additional states may join them if legislation concerning seat belts on buses passes.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that more than 23 million children get transported to and from school via school buses every year, and an average of six children die in school bus accidents annually.

A spokesperson for the National Safety Council says that the organization supports the movement to equip school buses with safety belts, especially after the accident that occurred in Chattanooga in Nov. 2016 that killed six elementary school students.

He went on to say that children are taught to always buckle up when they’re riding in cars, but buses aren’t equipped with seat belts, which can be confusing and dangerous for small children.

A bus driver spoke at a hearing about school bus seat belts in Washington and opposed them, stating that it would be too difficult to make sure all children are buckled up while the bus is in motion.

How Effective Are Seat Belts at Improving Safety?

Modern vehicles are equipped with many safety features. High-tech equipment like lane-correction systems, traction-control systems, stability systems, collision-avoidance systems, and more help make vehicles safer than ever for drivers and passengers. But these systems can’t completely prevent accidents from occurring—and when they do, occupants need more protection than airbags.

Despite the great advances in vehicle safety, the most effective and important safety feature is still the seat belt. Some statistics that support this include:

  • Seat belts reduce serious crash-related injuries and deaths by half.

People who are unbuckled are significantly more likely to suffer disabling and life-threatening injuries during car accidents than people who wear their seat belts. That’s because seat belts prevent victims from being ejected from their vehicles, being thrown around inside their vehicles, or from impacting the steering wheel, seat, or dashboard.

  • Seat belts saved nearly 13,000 lives in 2014.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and U.S. Department of Transportation determined that nearly 13,000 people survived car accidents that would have otherwise proven fatal because they were wearing their seat belts. High-speed and high-impact crashes can generate huge amounts of force on vehicle occupants, but seat belts hold victims in place, preventing a wide variety of injuries.

  • Auto accident deaths have been declining almost every year since the 1970s.

Seat belts began to be commonly used in the mid-1970s, and ever since then, the number of traffic fatalities have decreased almost every year, with consistent decreases annually from 1996-2001 and from 2006-2011. Now, almost all states in the U.S. have either primary or secondary enforcement laws concerning the use of seat belts. Drivers and passengers who aren’t buckled up may be subject to fines and tickets.

While the number of injury-causing and fatal accidents on school buses is relatively low, adding seat belts to all vehicles is a proven way to make them safer in the event of an accident. In addition to reducing the likelihood that victims of vehicle accidents will suffer any injuries, seat belts can also reduce the chances of suffering disabling and life-threatening injuries during particularly high-risk and high-impact crashes, such as head-on collisions and rollover crashes.

At Matt Hardin Law, our Nashville auto accident attorneys know that seat belts save thousands of lives every year and prevent countless serious injuries. But we also know that seat belts can’t eliminate the risk of getting hurt during car accidents. If you or someone you know was injured in an auto accident that was caused by a negligent driver, we want to fight for your rights to get full compensation. To find out how we can help, just dial (615) 200-1111 or complete a free online consultation form.

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