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Should school buses have seatbelts?

On Behalf of | Mar 5, 2024 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

Children are Kentucky’s most valuable and vulnerable population. As a result, we’re driven to keep our kids as safe as possible. Our state’s laws tend to reflect this priority, too, doing everything from protecting them from abuse and neglect to keeping them safe from dangerous and defective products. But our state is imperfect. For example, many have come to question the state’s approach to school bus safety, including whether the use of seatbelts should be mandatory.

The current status of seatbelt use on Kentucky school buses

There are only a handful of states in the United States that require school busses to be outfitted with seatbelts for passengers. Kentucky is not one of them. Why doesn’t the state require schools to provide students with seatbelts that they can wear to keep them safe? It’s unclear, but money has been one lingering concern.

According to some reports, installing seatbelts on school buses could add as much as $10,000 in additional costs per school bus. With districts strapped for cash and a push to increase funding on testing and academic achievement, most schools have passed on doing something that isn’t required of them. But is the financial cost of installing seat belts worth our children’s safety?

Other critics of mandatory school bus seatbelt laws argue that school buses are safe enough without the implementation of seatbelts. It’s true that less children are injured and killed in school bus accidents compared to car crashes, but how many of those children could’ve been kept safe if seatbelts had been in use on their school bus?

What’s the risk of not having seatbelts on school buses?

Our children are at risk of all sorts of harm when riding a school bus, including accident injuries, violent behaviors perpetrated by other students, and bullying. Mandatory seatbelt use can minimize all of these risk factors. Seatbelts prevent children from standing, which reduces the risk that they’ll tease, harass, or strike other students. And when students are kept in their seats and are better behaved, drivers are less distracted by behavioral management issues, thus keeping our children safer from potential accidents.

Mandatory seatbelt usage on school buses can also teach our children good habits. Far too many teens and adults are killed in car accidents because they neglect to wear their seatbelt. We certainly don’t want our children to get in the habit of foregoing the most important safety factor when driving.

What if your child has already been injured in a bus accident?

If your child was hurt in a bus accident, then you need to consider whether taking legal action is justified. This might include filing a claim against the bus driver, the school, or another driver who was responsible for the accident. As you enter the legal arena, though, you’ll need evidence to support your arguments of negligence and causation. So, be sure to gather as much information as you can heading into your case, including witness statements, bus maintenance records, training records, and records pertaining to your losses.

What are your next steps?

Our children are at significant risk without having seatbelts on their bus. Do you agree? Let us know in the comments below.

And if your child has been injured in a bus accident, then take the time needed to fully assess your options and determine your best course of action. By being diligent, you might find accountability, recover compensation, and raise awareness of this issue that is often overlooked by our local, state, and federal governments.