The federal administration has rejected a petition by consumer safety groups calling for the installation of seat belts on school buses. According to the administration, it does not have enough evidence to indicate that the benefits of installing seatbelts on all school buses would justify the heavy expenses involved. This position is reprehensible. It is well known that seatbelts save lives and in this case, we are talking about the lives of innocent children.
As Atlanta bus accident lawyers and parents ourselves, the topic of school bus safety is one that’s particularly close to us, especially now that schools have started and thousands of children across Atlanta and Georgia are traveling by school buses. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration this week announced that it is rejecting a petition by consumer safety groups, asking for seatbelts on all school buses.
Safety groups including the Center for Auto Safety and the National Coalition for School Bus Safety had submitted a petition for a federal mandate for seat belts on all school buses. However, the agency has said that requiring seatbelts on all school buses means heavy expenses. According to the agency estimates, installing seatbelts would cost between $5,485 and $7,346 for a large school bus. These seatbelts are expected to cost between $375 and $600 each.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration believes that the safety benefits from requiring seat belts on school buses do not justify these expenses. The agency also believes that it would be better for the federal administration to stay out of this issue, and leave it to state and local governments.
According to school bus safety groups, lack of seatbelts doesn’t just increase the risk of serious injury to children in a school bus accident, but also increases the risk of other types of accidents. For instance, many accidents every year can be traced to school buses that are stopped at a stop. In many cases, drivers are distracted by children jumping up and down on their seats. These distractions could be minimized if children are properly restrained in their school bus seats, just as they are restrained when they ride with their parents in a passenger car.
The administration also believes that it would be too much of a strain for school bus drivers to get all children to restrain themselves before driving. However, Atlanta accident lawyers have to disagree with that. Most children are use to car safety seats, booster seats and seat belts by the time they go to school. Few parents would dream of driving with their children unrestrained in the car. Children are use to restraints, and would not fight having to be buckled into their seat in a school bus. In fact, it is only on a school bus that children are not properly and securely restrained. For instance, many independent schools already have seat belts on their buses, including Woodward Academy in Atlanta, Georgia, the largest independent school in the continental United States. Woodward has not found it difficult making sure their students are in their seatbelts.
The National Transportation Safety Board has for years recommended a federal mandate for seatbelts in school buses. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has repeatedly refused to adopt the Board’s recommendations.