We can’t believe school buses don’t have seat belts.
It’s not that school buses are unsafe. Some 25 million children ride 485,000 buses to and from school every day, covering more than 4 billion miles a year. Accidents claim around 5 or 6 lives annually, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Some people say that number is low enough that we shouldn’t take extra safety precautions on school buses. We disagree.
Only four states — California, Florida, New Jersey and New York — have laws requiring seat belts on school buses. Louisiana and Texas also have seat belt laws in place, but the requirements are contingent upon funds being appropriated by the state, and that hasn’t happened.
But this could be changing. The federal government reversed course in 2015, when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommended that buses have seat belts after decades arguing against it. The National Transportation Safety Board recommends the same. Since then, some 20 state legislatures have brought up school bus safety restraint bills, though none have passed yet.
Illinois is one of those states, with a measure to require three-point safety harnesses on all school buses in the state stuck in limbo in the General Assembly. Secretary of State Jesse White backs the bill and so do we at McNabola Law Group.
Opponents say the cost of outfitting buses with safety belts is prohibitive for cash-strapped school districts, as estimates put the cost of outfitting a bus with belts at $7,000 to $10,000 each. But we believe that cost is justified and will reduce injuries and deaths from bus accidents. After all, you can’t put a price on our children’s safety.