Brad Pistotnik Law
Abogado El Toro

Would Seat Belts on School Buses Save Lives?

How many bus accidents are there every year? According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), from 2004 to 2013 1,344 individuals died in school bus related accidents. 8% of these were passengers or drivers of the school bus, while 92% were pedestrians, cyclists, or occupants of the other vehicle. The data shows that of those who died, 71% were occupants of vehicles that hit or were hit by the school bus.

Young school-age pedestrians are at a considerable risk of suffering a fatal injury following a school bus accident. The NHTSA data shows that 116 children under the age of 18 died from 2004 to 2013. On average, four school age children between the ages of 5 and 18 are killed every year. 62% of these children were struck by a school bus, while 5% were struck by light trucks, vans, or passenger vehicles that were functioning as school buses. The remaining 33% died following collisions with passenger vehicles, trucks, vans, and motorcycles that were involved in an accident with a school bus and subsequently struck the child pedestrian.

The survivability of a school bus accident varies significantly depending on the impact point of the collision. NHTSA records show that 34.2% of fatalities occur in front end collisions, 34.2% occur in rollover accidents, 18.4% occur in side collisions, 13.2% occur in rear collisions.

The most dangerous hours of the day are between 7am and 8am, and 3pm to 4pm. This is not surprising as these are the hours when children arrive at and leave from school. Because the risk of accidents and fatality events are evident, many states and school districts have started mandating the use of seatbelts on school buses. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued a formal recommendation that school buses nationwide be equipped with both lap and shoulder safety belts to protect children from potential injuries and wrongful deaths. To date, only six states have adopted statutes requiring seat belts on school buses. These states are California, Florida, Lousiana, New Jersey, New York, and Texas. One reason given by legislatures in the states where seatbelts are not required is the perceived prohibitive cost which can amount to between $7,300 to $10,300 per bus.

Opponents of adding seat belts on school buses point to NHTSA data that shows that more children die in automobile accidents while being transported to and from school. From 2003 to 2014, there were 453 such deaths which accounted for 77.7% of the total number of fatalities. While the comparison shows that children driven to and from school in automobiles are at greater risk, it does not negate the fact that children's lives could be saved if school buses were equipped with seat belts.

Brad Pistotnik represents clients in Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, and Illinois who have been injured in a school bus accident. Individuals who have been involved in these accidents should contact Brad Pistotnik Law to move forward with their accident claim.

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