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Are Seat Belts Required for School Bus Passengers in Illinois?

Posted on in School Bus Accidents

Lake County school bus accident attorneysThis seems to be a simple question to which the answer intuitively seems to be yes, kids riding in school buses should be required to wear seat belts. This is because we know lives are saved in cars when victims of an accident have their seat belts on. So, it would seem logical that bus riders wearing seat belts will save lives as well.

However, this might not actually be the case. When school bus drivers were surveyed, most of the drivers--those who have direct, hands-on experience with bus safety--strongly oppose the idea of requiring seat belts in school buses.

Why Bus Drivers Are Opposed to Seat Belts in School Buses

The school bus drivers who were surveyed raised several concerns regarding why requiring seat belts in school buses might not be a good idea. Some of these concerns include the following:

Heavy seat belt buckles could be used as weapons by students to attack or injure other students.

It is almost impossible to make sure that all students have seat belts on and properly fastened.

If a seat belt is not properly fastened, it could cause injury to the student worse than not having the seat belt on at all.

Should there be a need to evacuate the school bus in an emergency, some of the students could end up being trapped by the seat belts, especially if they are disoriented, as is often the case under such circumstances.

Most drivers seem to believe that when these concerns are balanced against the school buses inbuilt safety features, and given operational requirements for these buses, students are safe in the buses without having seat belts on.

The Federal Government's Position on School Bus Seat Belts

The National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA) has concluded that there is no need to have a federally mandated requirement for seat belts on large school buses. According to the NHTSA, the already mandated safety features required to be built into new school buses provide all the safety and protection against injury necessary to safely operate these buses.

The NHTSA also says “compartmentalization” of these school buses also further helps in providing additional crash protection to the students, without a need for seat belts. Compartmentalization refers to the close spacing of seats which have energy-absorbing seat backs. This safety feature offers protection against impact in a crash.

In short, the answer is no. Wearing seat belts is not required for school buses in Illinois.

A Lake County Injury Lawyer Can Help

While school buses are operated with the safety of our children being the number one priority, accidents do happen even in the best of operational circumstances. If you or your child has been injured in an accident involving a school bus, contact an experienced Waukegan personal injury attorney to discuss your options. We are experienced in handling school bus-related cases, and we know what it takes to get results. Schedule a free consultation by calling 847-662-3303. At Salvi & Maher, L.L.C., we collect our fees only when you collect compensation.




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