School buses carry millions of American children to and from the school. The American School Bus Council estimates that nearly 25 million children ride in a school bus.
To ensure the safety of kids in school buses, some states require seat belts on large buses. However, the scary fact is that there are no seat bus laws in the majority of states in the US.
In this post, we will highlight e the dangers of not wearing seat belts, and states have made seat belts mandatory on large school buses.
Why Seat Belts on School Buses Are Important?
Seat belts indeed help save lives. They minimize the damage sustained in an accident. Not wearing seat belts increases the risk of a serious injury and even death.
According to the most recent statistics shared by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), wearing seat belts saved lives of nearly 15,000 individuals in 2017. About 2,500 fatality during the same year occurred due to not wearing seat belts.
Wearing seat belts keeps the individual secure inside a vehicle. It prevents an individual to be ejected out during a crash that usually proves to be fatal. Studies have shown that buckling up in a light truck can reduce the risk of fatal injuries by almost 60 percent. Moreover, the risk of moderate injuries reduces by about 65 percent due to wearing seat belts.
What States Have Laws for Seat Belts on School Busses?
Despite the obvious danger of not wearing seat belts in a bus, only eight states have made it mandatory to have seat belts on large public buses.
New York State
New York State seat belt law states that all school buses made after July 1, 1987, that transport children to school should have seat belts. However, the state does not require students to use the seat belts and have left this decision to the local school district.
New Jersey state laws go a step further and require all school buses should not only have seat belts but passengers are required to wear them as well. The seat belt needs to be properly adjusted and fastened in conformity to the applicable federal rules.
House Bill 1002 signed into law in 2017 made it mandatory that all school buses purchased after Jan. 1, 2018 should have seat belts. The seat belts must be in accordance with the federal safety standards.
The seat belt laws in California have also made it mandatory for school buses to have seat belts. Every school bus that is manufactured after July 1, 2005 and that carries more than 16 passengers should have safety belts.
All other buses made after July 1, 2004, should have seat belts. A new law passed in 2018 has mandated that all school buses should have seat belts by 2035.
In Florida, school buses made after December 31, 2000, should have seat belts. The safety belts need to meet the standards as has been stated under section 316.614 Florida statute.
The law also states that all state and local jurisdictions, as well as public school systems, should carry out a public awareness program that informs the public about the use of safety belts. Violating the provision of the law is punishable as per Chapter 318 of the motor vehicle law.
Louisiana has also state laws regarding the seat belts on school buses. However, the state faces a funding shortage for implementing the law. As a result, most school buses in the state do not have seat belts.
Nevada legislation had passed a new law in 2017 that requires three 3-points belts on school buses. The law requires that school buses that are purchased on or after July 1, 2019, should have seat belts.
Texas laws require that school districts should ensure that new school buses have the three-point shoulder-to-lap seat belts.
Florida along with Texas and California are the only states in the US that require three-point seat belts as in cars. Most other states require lap seat belts in school buses. Also, the seat belt laws in Arkansas, Texas, and Louisiana are subject to approval or denial by local jurisdictions.
Seat Belt Laws in Other States
School seat belt laws are not implemented in states other than those listed above. This makes students at risk of serious injuries and fatalities in an event of a school bus accident. Dozens of students have been injured in school bus accidents in Las Vegas, Massachusetts, and Tennessee due to no laws regarding seat belts.
National Transport Safety Board recommends (NTSB) that seat belts should be on every school bus. They help save lives and reduce the risk of serious injuries. The Safety Board has also recommended that schools with the lap seat belts should upgrade to the safer three belt seat belt.
Lap-only seat belts don’t prevent serious injuries or fatalities. One study had found that many fatal crashes and injuries occurred due to wearing only lap belts. These belts can lead to severe head and neck injuries including lumbar, abdominal, and spine injuries. A three-point seat belt or shoulder to a lap seat belt is effective in preventing serious injuries in the case of an accident.
Final Words of Advice
You should contact an experienced School Bus Accident Attorney if your child has been involved in a school bus accident. An experienced school bus accident lawyer will make sure that the guilty party is brought to justice.
The chances of a successful school bus accident case outcome increase significantly when you get the help of an attorney. An attorney will make sure that you get full legal representation in the court.
With the help of an attorney, you can navigate through the complex state laws regarding school bus seat belts and see to it that the guilty party pays for negligence that resulted in injury or death of students.