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Rethinking Seatbelts on School Buses

Could implementing seatbelts on school buses save lives?

A school bus driver in Georgia recently lost control of her vehicle and smashed into a tree, killing one 5-year-old child and injuring several others.  The accident occurred in Gum Branch, a small city located to the southwest of Savannah.  Investigations into the accident are ongoing and thus far the driver, who was also injured in the accident, has not been charged.  Video from the bus security camera showed the driver struggling with the gear shift, in an apparent attempt to slow the bus.  It is possible a malfunction lead to this horrific Georgia school bus accident.

Georgia Bus Did Not Have Seatbelts

Authorities report that the Georgia school bus involved in the accident was not equipped with seatbelts.  The five-year-old child killed in the crash was sitting in one of the front row passenger seats.  The tremendous impact of the accident caused the bus’s roof to cave in and trapped the driver within the crushed front of the bus.  With the local community shook by this accident that claimed one young life, some are questioning whether the use of seat belts in school buses could have provided additional protections.

Should Georgia Mandate Seatbelts on School Buses?

School buses are traditionally considered the safest means of transportation for school aged children.  In fact, the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that just four children are killed while riding in school buses on average each year, while 500 die riding in a passenger motor vehicle to school annually.  Nonetheless, several high profile school bus accidents have led to some states adopting additional bus safety measures, including seatbelts.

Thus far, six states (California, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, and Texas) have required that all school buses be equipped with seatbelts.  In Georgia, only Fulton County has so far purchased seatbelt equipped buses.  The county currently has 90 new buses with seatbelts, and hopes to eventually have more than 400.  The Georgia Department of Education has not taken a stance on the issue and there is no state mandate.

Georgia school districts may be wary to move forward with plans to add seatbelt equipped school buses due to the expense.  For parents, however, you cannot put a price on the life of a child. Any parent whose child is injured in a school bus accident should contact a personal injury lawyer right away.

Posted in: School Bus Accident