A tour bus carrying 65 family members crashed at 3AM when the driver fell asleep at the wheel. While everyone onboard was injured, there was one fatality when a 71 year old passenger was ejected from the bus.
The fact that she was ejected from the bus is not surprising, as buses, unlike airplanes, don’t have seatbelts. The issue centers around a concept known as "compartmentalization." Buses that weigh more than 10,000 pounds are built to offer "passive restraint" to riders: closely-spaced seats that protect passengers in the same way an egg carton protects its contents. Our firms experience in bus crashes shows compartmentalization doesn’t offer adequate protection in side impacts or rollovers, where passengers don’t get thrown forwards, but are ejected through the bus windows or thrown against the floor or ceiling. In fact seatbelts would help retain passengers in the "compartment", making buses even safer. Experts estimate seatbelts would cost about $1,000, or $15.15 a passenger for a 66 passenger bus. This works out to less than a nickle a day per passenger in the first year, far less than this over the life of a bus. In short it makes no sense not to have seatbelts on buses.
Many states now require school buses to have seatbelts. Early this month Texas enacted a law which would require all buses purchased on or after Sept. 1, 2010, to have seatbelts. While that doesn’t help folks today, it is a step in the right direction for Texas. If the bus you or your children are on are on does not have seatbelts what do you do?
If the bus does not have seat belts, according to the National Coalition of School Bus Safety, you should:
- Make sure you DO NOT ride in the front row of seats
- Remain seated whenever the bus is in motion
- Teach your child how to enter and exit the bus properly (A leading cause of death is children being hit by their own school bus)
- Make sure that your child’s bus stop has an adult volunteer to monitor the children
There has been a great deal of litigation involving the lack of seatbelts on buses causing injury. Recoveries by the victims and their surviving families can reach 20 Million or more per case. Doesn’t it make sense to spend $1,000 to prevent the injuries and deaths rather than 20 Million to compensate victims for the loss of their children and loved ones? Our office, having personally talked to experts, gone through litigation with busing companies, and reviewed the reports and the issues on both sides of the debate, STRONGLY RECOMMENDS ANYONE WHO READS THIS CONTACT THEIR REPRESENTATIVES AND DEMAND SEATBELTS BE PLACED ON BUSES.