Recently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) surprised many by formally recommending the installation of seat belts on school buses. This issue has been debated for years and the NHTSA used its public message to make it clear on where it stood on the installation of three seat belts on school buses. The NHTSA administrator stated recently that children across the country should be protected by seat belts while traveling to school. Currently, just six states require the use of seat belts in school buses, though some individual school districts have elected to install seat belts on their own accord. Florida has already passed laws requiring the installation of seat belts on large school buses, though there are some exceptions to the law.
The NHTSA has vowed to take any necessary measures to push for the installation of seat belts in buses. It intends to launch a series of steps designed to increase the installation of seat belts, including new research, funding, and eventually a state wide mandate. Our personal injury lawyers believe this is an important step forward in school bus safety and hope that with the NHTSA’s formal support for a seat belt mandate, school districts across the country will take action to ensure the safety of our nation’s children.
Seat Belts Save Lives
According to a study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, there were an estimated 51,100 school bus related injuries that required hospital treatment from 2001 to 2003. Many of these accidents resulted in head injuries, broken bones, and other serious injuries. Each year, about four children die in school bus accidents.
Seat belts have been installed in passenger motor vehicles for decades. The statistics are clear and accepted unanimously—seat belts save lives and prevent injuries. By installing seat belts in the buses that transport the nation’s children, it seems clear that we can prevent injuries and deaths.
However, not everyone supports the installation of seat belts on buses. Some worry that belts could trap children inside buses. For instance, had seat belts been installed in the Tampa bus that crashed and ended up in the water on its side, perhaps children would have been stuck. This argument could, though, be made for the drivers and passengers of nearly any motor vehicle.
Others point to concerns over budgetary constraints as their reason for opposition to the installation of seat belts. School districts everywhere are struggling to accommodate the needs of all students and many will struggle to come up with funding to improve their buses.
In Florida, seat belts are mandatory in large school buses unless the bus was built prior to 2001. If a federal mandate does issue, this could require many districts retrofit older buses with seat belts to meet new standards.
Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano: Assisting Injured Children and Adults Across Florida
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a traffic accident, the Miami Automobile Accident Lawyers at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano offer the assistance you need to obtain the results you desire. With over 130 collective years of experience representing traffic accident victims across South Florida, our firm provides legal representation of unmatched excellence. Contact our firm as soon as possible to start on the road to protecting your legal rights. Our firm received an AV rating from Martindale Hubbell and was ranked as a top firm in South Florida by the Miami Herald. Put our exceptional car accident attorneys to work on your case. Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or you can visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.