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Should Seat Belts be Required on Buses?

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Should seat belts be required on buses? The answer is, "Yes" because it increases passenger safety, but there are some prohibitive reasons as to why they aren't installed on buses, not even school buses filled with youngsters. Statistically, school buses are approximately 40 times safer than regular passenger vehicles, like private cars, trucks, vans, and SUVs. Buses have advantages over other vehicles sharing the road such as riding high, having much heavier weight, and heavily padded seats. But, bus accidents aren't exactly rare and these do result in several injuries and fatalities annually.

It is now mandatory in all states to wear seatbelts while in a car as either a driver or passenger. In addition, it is also mandatory for infants and toddlers to be in specialized car seat. Given the restraint requirements in other vehicles, why don't buses have seatbelts? --About.com

Should Seat Belts be Required on Buses?

The five most common causes of bus crashes are: driver fatigue, distracted driving, reckless bus operation, mechanical failure, and alcohol, drugs, as well as prescription medication. These causes are completely avoidable, yet still occur. Therefore, seat belts should be required on buses because it increases their safety significantly for passengers.

The University of Michigan produced a study entitled, "Type of Motor Carrier and Driver History in Fatal Bus Crashes." The research reveals there are some 63,000 bus accidents in the United States each year. About 14,000 injuries are caused by bus collisions, with additional 325 deaths. Additionally, it's been discovered the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or NHTSA undercounted the number of motor-coach and bus collisions.

So, why is it seat belts are not required on buses? Well sadly, it is mainly due to cost. Estimates to equip just one bus with seat belts ranges from $8,000 to $15,000. Such installations would reduce the number of seats on each bus. So, fleets sizes would have to increase up to 15 percent to accommodate the same number of passengers. All of this translates into higher passenger rates, which lessens the number of paying customers for buses operating in cities and highway motorcoaches.

Additionally, cost barriers aside, it's said that buses utilize "compartmentalization," a concept which works a lot like eggs in a closed cartoon. Because the seats are installed closely together, and are padded, when an accident occurs, passengers are thrown into an airbag-like padding. However, this is only true if every passenger is seated facing forward, with their feet on the floor. Any deviation from this sitting position fails to make the principle of compartmentalization work.

Unbelievably, school buses still use technology developed in the 1970's and not many new safety initiatives have developed or been implemented since 1977. Modern parents would never let their children ride in their cars using technology developed and unimproved since 1977. It's simply outdated and not sufficient in today's modern, high-tech, environment.

A primary benefit of installing seat belts on buses would lessen driver distraction. Drivers typically monitor passengers and must pay attention to every person onboard because passengers are unrestrained. If buses were equipped with seat belts, it would allow drivers to place more focus on the road and away from passengers.

Another benefit of installing seat belts on buses is it would reduce the overall cost of insurance and it would provide passengers with a little more peace of mind. This is especially true for parents with children who ride buses to school in the morning and back home in the afternoon.

Overall, buses are safer than cars in some ways, but there's always room for improvement and newer, better technology to keep bus riders safe.

If you or a loved one have been involved in a bus accident, you need to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney right away. The law limits the time to have to file a claim. Contact Vititoe Law Group for a free case evaluation Don't wait, contact a lawyer today.

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