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Will seat belts on buses prevent car crash injuries?

Should Connecticut children be wearing seat belts on school buses? That's the big question that's being posed by many traffic safety experts, including some of the highest-ranked officials in the nation. Now, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is formally advocating that three-point seat belts be used on school buses throughout the nation, largely in an effort to prevent serious injuries in the event of a crash.

Why should we consider installing seat belts on school buses? Transportation authorities say that the simple fact is that seat belts save lives, no matter whether you are in a passenger vehicle or a mass transit situation. The NHTSA's new policy indicates that every child on American school buses should have a seat belt on. Even though this federal agency is advocating for the change, they are facing some pushback from industry groups, who argue that such choices should be in the hands of the individual cities and states, not the purview of national regulators.

Has the NHTSA previously advocated for school bus seat belt use? Not formally. However, research shows that seat belt use is critical to surviving a car accident, and safety restraints can also help prevent catastrophic injuries. With the increase in bus accidents in the news, it is no wonder that the federal regulators are taking notice of the situation and moving into action.

What happens if my child is in a school bus car accident? Many children suffer serious personal injury because of a negligent driver, whether that person is behind the wheel of a car or the bus itself. Children should not have to go through the pain and suffering associated with these injuries -- but if they do, families may be entitled to financial compensation from the organization that operates the bus. School districts and private entities alike may be liable if children are injured because of a reckless driver.

Source: NBC News, "Car Safety Chief Backs Seat Belts on School Buses," Tom Costello, Nov. 10, 2015

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