GASTONIA, North Carolina. In the next couple of weeks, students across the country will return to school. Many of these students will ride buses to get to class. While school buses remain among the safest ways for students to get to school, some claim that they could be made safer. We all know that seat belts save lives. Yet, not all school buses are equipped with seat belts.
In North Carolina, this is the case—but why? It generally comes down to money and funding. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that upgrading a school bus to include seat belts can cost anywhere from $7,346 and $10,296. In lower income areas, in particular, this money just isn’t there. Essentially, the reason why children don’t wear seat belts on buses comes down to the fact that older buses are not equipped with seat belts. Replacing these with newer, properly-equipped buses can be costly.
According to CNN, only six states currently mandate that children wear seat belts on school buses. These states are New York, Florida, California, New Jersey, Louisiana, and Texas. The National Safety Council recommends that all school buses come equipped with safety belts for children.
Despite the shocking lack of seat belts on school buses, this mode of transportation remains the safest means for children to get to school. While buses may not have seat belts, the high-backed seats present in buses protect children in the event of a low-speed collision. When communities consider how to spend safety money, they may choose to invest it in crossing guards and traffic lights to protect pedestrians who are statistically more vulnerable than students riding in school buses.
School bus safety is everyone’s business. Even if your child isn’t returning to school this year, it’s a good idea to review school bus safety. According to North Carolina Public Radio, 815 students die every year while traveling to school or back home. One way to prevent deaths is to remember that it is illegal to pass a stopped school bus. More school districts are installing cameras, and fines for passing school buses have been increased.
One of the leading risks to children during their commute to school is distracted driving. Drivers are not the only culprits. Children are increasingly using cell phones while walking to school. This distraction can result in accidents if pedestrians don’t look before crossing the street. If your child has a cell phone, make sure to review proper cell phone use for walking before sending your child off to school.
Finally, the good news is that North Carolina districts are working to upgrade their school buses. More than 100 buses across the state have been refurbished to include seat belts. That said, the personal injury risk for students appears to involve pedestrian accidents and distracted driving crashes. If you or a loved one has been personally injured, contact the car accident lawyers at J. Boyce Garland, Jr.: Attorney at Law in Gastonia, North Carolina. Our firm can review the circumstances of your accident and fight to help you receive the recovery you may deserve under the law. If your child is injured while riding a public school bus, seeking compensation from your school district can be complex. Visit our firm at http://jboyceattorney.com/personal-injury/ to learn more about your options.