The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently made several recommendations aimed at increasing the safety of school buses. These recommendations came shortly after a school bus accident in New Jersey that led to two deaths and 40+ injuries. According to the NTSB, states should require new school buses to use three-point seatbelts.
Presently, it is up to each state whether or not they require large school buses (over 10,000 pounds) to use seatbelts. Currently, only eight states have school bus seatbelt laws. Municipalities can also pass their own regulations.
How Do Seatbelts Improve School Bus Safety?
School buses that weigh 10,000 pounds or more use compartmentalization, which is an engineering technique that helps protect passengers from impact forces. These large buses have an energy-absorbing steel structure and use high, padded seats that are fastened to the ground.
Compartmentalization; however, cannot protect against all types of accidents. School bus passengers can suffer serious injuries or even death during rollover accidents. Side impact crashes can also cause serious injuries or deaths. According to the NTSB, seatbelts can help protect students during rollovers and side impact crashes.
Does North Carolina Require Seatbelts on School Buses?
While more states are beginning to implement school bus seatbelt laws, North Carolina does not have a law requiring seatbelts for large school buses. Some North Carolina school districts do use seatbelts though. For example, Durham Public Schools added seatbelts to nine of its school buses last year. Eleven North Carolina districts participated in a seatbelt pilot program for the 2016-2017 school year.
The Importance of School Bus Safety
With more and more school bus accidents occurring across the United States, there has been an increase in concern for stricter seatbelt laws on buses. Several of the recent school bus accidents, including the one in New Jersey, may have been less catastrophic if students had access to seatbelts.
In some cases, school bus accidents are caused by the negligence of the bus driver or a third-party. An investigation into the recent New Jersey school bus accident determined that the bus driver’s license had been suspended 14 times before the crash. In another fatal school bus crash that occurred in Tennessee two years ago, the driver was traveling at more than twenty miles per hour above the posted speed limit.
When you send your kids off to school on a bus, you put your hope and faith into the hands of the school system and the bus driver. Unfortunately, accidents happen and when they do, your children are at risk of serious injuries. If your child has suffered harm after a school bus accident, it’s important that you speak with an experienced accident attorney quickly. The attorneys at Riddle & Brantley are available 24/7 to speak with you and may be able to recover compensation for your child’s injuries. Contact us today for a free, no obligation case evaluation.