Louisiana is one of only six states mandating seat belts in school buses. It may come as a surprise to parents that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not compelled large school buses to provide seat belts.

Many students have injured in recent crashes around the country, raising concerns over the lack of seat belts in buses. This issue comes to light every time there is a fatal accident involving a school bus.

According to school bus manufacturers and the NHTSA, bus size and bus design negate the necessity of seat belts. Buses have narrow spaces between seats; high seatbacks are designed specifically to keep students in place. The concept is termed compartmentalization.

In support of their contentions are statistics demonstrating low numbers of school bus accident deaths and injuries. Of the 23.5 million children who travel each year in 450,000 public school buses across 4.3 billion miles, an average of six kids lose their lives in bus crashes. However, for their parents, even one death is too many. Some argue that these fatalities could have been avoided if seat belts were used.

A health officer raises an interesting question: Why is it mandated that children wear seat belts in cars but not in buses? The woman points out that children often spend more time in a bus than they do in cars.

Losing a loved one in an accident places an emotional toll on family members. If the loss was a result of an accident due to the negligence of another party, family members may be able to file a civil suit. Though it is not possible to quantify their loss, a wrongful death claim may make compensation available to cover expenses such as pain and suffering and funeral bills.

Source: The Star Press, “School bus crashes raise seat belt question,” Michelle Kinsey, May 1, 2012