There have been several school bus accidents being reported on in the news as of lately and it seems one state congressman is ready to take a step in the direction of making those who ride the school bus safer. According to School Transportation News, Congressman Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey has introduced the Secure Every Child Under the Right Equipment Standards (SECURES) Act of 2018 (H.R. 5984)to the U.S. House and Senate and it has been referred to the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure.
The Act would require all school buses to be equipped with three-point-lap-and-shoulder seat belts while also putting into place “innovative measures” to ensure the students were actually wearing their seat belts when riding on the bus. As you may have already heard, a devastating school bus accident recently occurred in Justin, Texas, just a few hours away from Houston. Apparently, the right tire of the bus went off the roadway and when the bus driver attempted to correct his error, the bus overturned and went off the roadway. The 18 students who were on board the bus at the time of the incident were from Justin Elementary School and seven of them sustained injuries as a result of the accident. Sources say the school bus was not equipped with seat belts.
 
Officials are still investigating the accident and no charges have been filed as of yet.
 
Because school bus accidents have become common occurrences in various states including NJ, Rep. Gottheimer announced he would be writing to officials at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration as well as the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission to request that they “study and take immediate action to ensure that all bus drivers are qualified to drive our children.” The congressman was a bit concerned when he found out that the students involved in the school bus crash that occurred in Paramus earlier in the month were only wearing a two-point lap belt, however, this is what the NJ law currently requires.
He was also surprised to learn that in states like Texas and Arkansas, while there are seat belt laws in place, there are stipulations that state “local voters must either successfully petition the school board to add a levy on the ballot to increase property taxes to pay for the occupant restraints or school boards must hold a public meeting to inform local residents that there are no funds currently available to pay for them.”
Seat belts have saved thousands of lives and can help save more if more school buses are equipped with them.
The state congressman was shocked to learn that among all the states in the U.S., only eight required school buses to be equipped with any type of seat belts. He stated that “nearly 600,000 school buses carry more than 25 million students to and from school, activities, and class trips.” He went on to say that “our school buses carry our children more than 5.7 billion miles every single year. And yet we allow millions of kids to ride on school buses without belts?” Gottheimer also cited that the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that “from 2000 to 2014, there was an average of 115 fatal crashes involving school buses each year.” And the truth is, if these buses had been equipped with seat belts, there is a chance the number of fatalities reported may have been much lower. Because seat belts do save lives and can reduce injury and death significantly, it appears this law would contribute to all the efforts currently being made to make our roadways safer. In 2016 alone, seat belts saved an estimated 14,668 lives, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
 
While H.R. 5984 is still currently under review, it is important that anyone who has a child who suffered an injury in a school bus accident in Houston contact USAttorneys.com so that you can be connected with a legal professional right away. The Houston, TX bus accident lawyers we work with are highly qualified to help you and your family obtain the compensation necessary to cover any expenses brought on because of the accident.

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