School Bus Safety – The Endless Debate

Everyday when you put your kids on the school bus, you worry about their safety; and that worry never stops, even as they are older. You worry about peer group pressure, if they’ll like their teachers, and if the bus on which they are riding will be involved in an accident.

Statistics show what many see as an alarming trend — school bus accidents seem to be on the rise. For instance, one set of statistics (taken from Pediatrics magazine) actually cites figures that show in the last three years or so, more than 50,000 children have been injured in non-fatal crashes. That would certainly scare any parent.

It’s even more frightening if you consider there are over 23 million children (both youngsters and older teens) whose only mode of transport to school is the big yellow bus. Sure some parents drive their kids to school, but the majority of families these days rely on school bus transportation.

This is interesting, and also the core of a major safety debate all across the United States. Florida, New Jersey and New York are the only states that have seat belts for the children on school buses. The controversy, of course, is whether or not the addition of seat belts make riding a school bus (and therefore the children) safer. Some say it could cause more harm than good.

What IS clear in this debate is that the Department of Transportation needs to re-examine school bus safety standards. Re-fitting a school bus with seat belts costs approximately $4,000, a small amount if it means saving lives. However, the argument is that if you have 30 buses to outfit, then the school district’s budget will take a hit.

When you stop to think about that argument, you come to the conclusion that money seems to be more important than the lives of our future generation. This is not acceptable. What person in their right mind would think twice about making a vehicle safer for their little ones?

Sure, most kids don’t like seat belts or want to wear them, but in this day and age it is more common that children hear “Put your seat belt on,” beginning when they’re toddlers. This is teaching through example –- the do as I say and do as I do parenting rule. Of course, this isn’t just up to the parents to strongly encourage kids to wear seat belts. Schools have a role in taking on this type of responsibility as well.

The major question is not whether the buses have seat belts, but rather how buses themselves need to be re-designed so they are not top heavy, thus they don’t roll as easily in a crash. That’s food for thought.

Tony Francis is an Orlando personal injury lawyer. His practice specializes in being an Orlando accident lawyer helping innocent victims get compensation for their losses. To learn more, visit Francislawgroup.com.

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