Many do not realize the seat belts are not mandatory on school buses in Rhode Island, arguably placing schoolchildren in danger of severe auto accident injuries and possibly death each year. For reasons unknown, in 2011, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicated that large buses provided enough protection to children without the use of seat belts. However, the NHTSA has recently changed its tune, and is now indicating that three-point seat belts need to be on every school bus in the country.
School Buses, Seat Belts, Injured Children & Drivers
Deciding that seat belts are not required in the state’s school buses was arguably a negligent act that has been in place for years. Regardless of the structural components of a bus, children not being fastened by seat belts allows them to get up and move about while the bus is moving, potentially distracting the bus driver and bringing about an accident. And, in fact, children and bus drivers have suffered injuries and died as a direct result of buses not having seat belts.
If your child or other loved ones have been injured in a bus accident, it is possible to file a lawsuit against the company that owned the bus, even if the state of Rhode Island does not yet require seat belts on school buses (noting that some individual districts may still choose to provide seat belts on school buses). In addition, each bus company is responsible for ensuring that their drivers are trained and competent in their responsibility. Even if a child is not physically harmed in an accident, there can be a level of psychological and/or emotional harm associated with these accidents in some circumstances.
Lack of Seat Belts Nationwide
Rhode Island is not alone in lacking a seat belt mandate for school buses: as of now, there are only six states that require them on school buses. Any mandate is going to require accompanying changes with bus company contracts and additional funding. Rhode Island politicians in the state are hoping that legislation introduced this coming spring will finally mandate the use of this basic safety measure.
In some states, injured families have even gone so far as to file suit against their own state for not requiring seatbelts. Arguably, requiring seat belts on school buses is common sense, just as we require them in trucks, four-door compact vehicles, and other vehicles that have the potential to injure or kill people.
Rhode Island Bus Accident Lawyers
Any and all auto accident claims that involve children or others not wearing seat belts can be complicated. If you or a loved one has experienced an injury or wrongful death related to an accident, it is crucial that you contact experienced auto accident and bus attorneys. Contact our Providence-based firm today to discuss your injuries and let us get started helping you.