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National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Endorses Seat Belts on School Buses

Posted on in Car Accidents

Wisconsin personal injury attorney, Wisconsin wrongful death lawyer, Wisconsin bus accident lawyerFor years, safety advocates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have suggested that school buses were safe enough without seat belts. However, the agency recently acknowledged that this message is not only contradictory to their stance on passenger safety, but that it may also be inaccurate. Unfortunately, making the changes might prove to be especially difficult.

School Transportation Fatalities Already Rare

Motor vehicle accidents kill thousands of Americans each year, but according to a study from the NHTSA school bus fatalities account for less than one percent. If put into context, that equates to about six children per year. The remainder of all deaths (1,353 from 2003 to 2012) were of people outside of the buses – pedestrians, bicyclists, and other drivers.

The resistance to making seat belts on school buses has done little to prevent serious injury to children. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, around 7,200 children sustain injuries while riding on school bus each year, which range anywhere from broken bones and concussions to more serious injuries that may require life-saving surgery.

But would seat belts on school buses really prevent fatalities? Could they realistically reduce the occurrence of serious injuries? Both the NHTSA and the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT), a school bus industry group, say yes, but the two organizations do not agree on how to go about making the change.

Cost a Major Contributing Factor

Cost has played a major role in the resistance to putting seat belts on school buses. Even the NHTSA acknowledges that retrofitting would be cost prohibitive. And, unfortunately, that means the rulemaking process is likely to have a lot of pushback, maybe even from some unlikely sources. For example, the NAPT proposed that, rather than making seat belts on school buses a federal decision, regulators should let individual school districts decide what is best. Unfortunately, such an approach could put budget-constricted schools under fire from concerned parents, and rightly so.

Regardless of how rare passenger fatality may be, any death on a school bus is one too many. Moreover, the goal should not be just to prevent death, but also to prevent injury. Seat belts could help make that happen. Until they do – and even after – parents have the right to seek fair compensation for their child’s death or injuries. Non-passengers killed or injured because of a school bus accident have this same right as well.

The skilled attorneys of Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP have been helping accident victims in Wisconsin since 1968. Our dedicated attorneys work with you to accurately quantify the costs experienced by you or your child during an accident and provide compassionate, aggressive representation throughout the entire process to ensure your rights are protected. To learn more, schedule your consultation with an experienced Milwaukee personal injury attorney. Call 414-271-1440 today.




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