WLF Bus Accident Lawyers Explore This Issue
On November 21, 2016, just three days before Thanksgiving Day, a school bus carrying 37 school children crashed into a tree and then flipped over, cutting short the lives of six children. This tragic event, which occurred in Chattanooga, Tennessee, brought to the fore the issue of whether buses need seatbelts. People across the country, including parents and bus accident lawyers, were wondering if the lives of those children could have been saved if they had been wearing seatbelts.
As it stands, most buses in the United States (and around the world, for that matter) are not equipped with seatbelts for passengers. There is no federal mandate that requires school buses to have seatbelts. Only six states (New York, Florida, New Jersey, Louisiana, Texas and California) have laws requiring school buses to be equipped with passenger seatbelts.
Why don’t buses come equipped with seatbelts for passengers?
There are three reasons why buses don’t come equipped with seatbelts for passengers:
- Seatbelts increase costs: The main reason that buses are not equipped with seatbelts is that they would increase the cost of buses significantly. According to estimates, it would cost between $8,000 and $15,000 to add seatbelts to one bus. Naturally, bus owners and operators would rather pocket the difference.
- Seatbelts take up space: If seatbelts were required in buses, bus companies would have to increase their fleet by as much as 15% to accommodate the same number of passengers. Such an increase would not only be costly, but also contribute to traffic congestion in the cities.
- The argument that seatbelts would not make school buses safer: The passenger seats of school buses are closely packed and equipped with thickly padded high seatbacks that provide cushion to the passengers in the event of a crash. The seats are also high off the ground, well above the location of most impacts. But the same is not true for most city buses, which employ transverse seating arrangements that offer little-to-no protection.
How do seatbelts work?
Seatbelts for passengers are important for buses because they can save lives. The concept behind a seatbelt is actually quite simple. It keeps the passenger from being propelled forward and colliding with a hard object in the event of a crash. Front seat passengers are prevented from crashing into the dashboard or flying through the window. Mid and back seat passengers are prevented from crashing into the back of the seats in front of them.
A typical seatbelt consists of two sections: a shoulder belt that extends across the chest and a lap belt that rests over the pelvis. Both sections are tightly secured to the frame of the seat to hold the passenger in his seat. The belt webbing is typically connected to a refractor mechanism, which prevents slackening of the belt. Seatbelts are also equipped with a pretensioner, which tightens up any slack in the belt webbing during a crash. Some seatbelts are also equipped with load limiters to minimize belt-inflicted injury.
Do buses need to be equipped with passenger seatbelts?
Considering the fact that so many passengers are injured or killed in bus accidents, there is little doubt that buses need be equipped with seatbelts.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has long recommended passenger seatbelts for newly manufactured school buses. The National Safety Council has also made a similar recommendation for other buses. A lot of passengers are also in favor of introducing passenger seatbelts in buses.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a bus accident, contact the experienced bus accident lawyers at Wilshire Law Firm for immediate assistance. In a FREE consultation, we can provide you with a comprehensive evaluation of your best legal options for recovery. Call us at 1-800-522-7274 to connect with a dedicated legal expert now.