According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), almost 14,000 lives were saved in 2015 because of seat belt usage. The national seat belt usage rate stands at 88.5 percent. However, one major form of transportation for our nation’s children does not have seat belts –- school buses.

More States Looking at Mandatory Seat Belts on School Buses

At least 20 states are considering seat belt bills for school buses this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). That’s a significant increase from previous years, which many safety experts believe is due to a 2015 federal recommendation that school buses all have seat belts.

None of the bills, though, have passed, even those bills that would only require seat belts on school buses that were manufactured after a specific date. The reason for the failure of the bills usually comes down to how effective the seat belts would actually be and what it would cost the school districts to install them.

Six School Age School Bus Passengers Die Each Year

One legislator in favor of school bus seat belts said, “Kids have to be on these buses, and I think we have to do everything we can to protect them.” Connecticut state Rep. Fred Camillo sponsored a bill saying as of 2022, school buses would be required to have seat belts.

Those who aren’t quite so sure the cost is worth it say that the good safety records school buses have make the expense questionable. It would cost between $7,000 and $10,000 per bus. In addition, they want to make sure children can evacuate a bus quickly in some emergencies.

There are only six states that require school buses to have seat belts. Over 25 million children are transported during the school year each day.

Regular-sized school buses protect children through a compartmentalization structural safety system where seat backs help absorb impact and seats are spaced closely together to keep children seated closely like an egg carton.

NHTSA Now Advocates for Seat Belts in School Buses

The NHTSA did not advocate for school bus seat belts until 2015. Even the reversal from the safety agency on school bus seat belts hasn’t led to a federal law on the matter.

Has Your Child Been Injured in a School Bus Crash?

Has a child of yours been injured in a school bus crash? Would he or she have been uninjured if wearing a seat belt? If you have questions concerning your child’s personal injury in a school bus accident, a local, experienced attorney can provide information on your legal options.