At Last, a Mandate for Seatbelts in Commercial Buses

Every state now has a law that requires drivers and some passengers to wear a seatbelt when a car is in motion. Every state also has a similar law requiring that small children be anchored to the vehicle by a car seat. Safety studies have consistently shown that these rules save lives by prevent people from being ejected from a vehicle during a collision.

The obvious question, then, is this: Why isn’t there a law requiring seatbelts on commercial buses?

Industry says, “We don’t need seat belts.” Don’t believe it.

Experts—such as the National Transportation Safety Board—have regularly called for a seatbelt mandate for buses. This isn’t just a casual, recent suggestion, either; advocates have been calling for state or federal bus seat belt laws for 45 years.

The motor coach industry has consistently rebuffed this demand. Spokesmen for bus companies claim that the bus property called compartmentalization provides enough protection for the bus passenger. The idea is the high-backed, padded seats of buses create a cushioned box that minimizes the risk to any passenger during a commercial bus accident. If a passenger is flung forward, bus companies claim, he will travel only a very short distance before being gently stopped by the seat ahead of him.

This claim simply doesn’t match with the facts as we know them. The most severe bus crashes, including bus rollover accidents, toss passengers wildly throughout the vehicle. More than half of all fatalities in rollover accidents involve passengers who are ejected from the bus. It’s pretty evident that the claims in favor of compartmentalization are exaggerated.

2013: The year when the rules changed

The U.S. Department of Transportation recently announced the rules change that safety advocates have been requesting for more than four decades. According to the new rules, all new commercial buses that operate between cities must have passenger lap and shoulder belts installed. The regulations will apply to vehicles that are built beginning in November 2016.

As bus accident attorneys, we recognize that this rule is an important start—but it is just a first step, not a complete journey. The regulation exempts all school buses and transit buses operating within a single city. Federal regulators promise to encourage motor coach companies to go beyond the minimum requirements of the law, but the response has been feeble to similar messages over the last 45 years.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a commercial bus accident, do not accept the first settlement offer from the bus company without talking to an experienced motor coach accident lawyer. Don’t be satisfied hiring a settlement lawyer who just wants to close your case as quickly as possible. Jon has the grit to take your case to the courtroom, if that’s what it takes to get full and fair compensation for your losses. Call them today at (888) 653-3636 for a FREE and confidential attorney consultation.