NHTSA Rejects Petition Calling for Safety Belts on School Buses

Our Washington DC personal injury law firm represents children and adults injured in motor vehicle crashes. Unfortunately, DC school bus accidents can be a cause of serious injury to kids—especially because there is no law requiring that these large vehicles be outfitted with seat belts. This means that during a school bus collision, kids on a bus don’t have anything to keep them securely tethered to their seats. As a result, head injuries, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injuries, and other debilitating injuries are more likely to occur during a crash.

The NHTSA has just turned down a petition calling for a federal law requiring that all school buses come with seat belts. The National Coalition for School Bus Safety and the Center for Auto Safety were the leaders of the petition.

According to the Washington Post, In the Federal Register NHTSA said it considered big school buses among some of the safest vehicles in the country. Their fatality rate is six times less than that of passenger cars. NHTSA also said that of the approximately 19 school kids who die annually in bus crashes, 14 are killed in school bus loading zones—compared to the five that die while on the bus. The federal agency argued that since fatalities in a school bus usually will have occurred because of impact with an object or another auto, seat belts would likely not prevent this. Cost, decrease in the number of passengers, and smaller fleets were also cited as a factor for why mandating seat belts on large school buses did not make sense.

School bus safety coalition member Arthur Yeager, however, noted that it was “hypocrisy” for NHTSA to push for seat belts in almost all other vehicles under their control but not for school buses. (Smaller school buses weighing less than 10K are required to have shoulder-lap belts for their seats.)

Regardless of whether or not a school bus is equipped with seat belts, depending on who caused the crash and the severity of your child’s injuries, you may have reason to seek damages from the school bus operator, the school, the bus manufacturer, the district, the motorist of another car that was involved, and/or the entity in charge of maintaining the road or traffic signals where the accident happened.

Feds reject request to require seat belts on school buses, Washington Post, August 25, 2011
NHTSA Turns Down Petition for Lap/Shoulder Belt Requirement on Large School Buses, School Transportation News, August 25, 2011
Related Web Resources:

Read the petition for rulemaking (PDF)

The Federal Register

Center for Auto Safety

National Coalition for School Bus Safety

More Blog Posts:

Preventing the Non-Crash Auto Deaths of Kids, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, July 26, 201
Tour Bus From Washington DC Involved in Deadly Crash May Have Been Derailed by Tire Blowout, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, July 18, 2011
Frederick County, School Bus Crash Involving Injuries Went Unreported, Say Maryland State Police, Maryland Accident Law Blog, October 28, 2010

Contact our Washington DC injuries to a minor lawyers today.

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