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Governor Signs Bill Making School Bus Seat Belts Mandatory by 2035

Posted on in Personal Injury

California school bus accident lawyern terms of mass transit accidents, school buses are perceived to be among the safest forms of transportation. However, for parents who put their children on a bus each day, this provides little relief; neither does it make up for the fact that many of these vehicles offer little practical protection in the event an accident does occur.  

For years, efforts have been underway to make school buses safer by equipping them with seat belts. Lap and shoulder harnesses are a lifesaver in car accidents, preventing passengers from striking hard surfaces and being thrown from the vehicle. While there are states that have already implemented plans to upgrade their existing school bus fleets, California previously had no official type of plan in place. However, after a lengthy legislative battle, Governor Jerry Brown recently signed a bill making shoulder and lap belts mandatory in school buses throughout the state by the year 2035. 

New Assembly Bill Improving School Bus Safety

Governor Brown signed California Assembly Bill 1798 on August 27, 2018. It officially requires all school districts in the state to either retrofit buses with lap belts and shoulder harnesses or to invest in new buses which are already equipped with these seat belts. Money should not be an excuse for noncompliance, as districts have nearly two decades to obtain the funding needed to make the change. 

In some school districts, school buses are already equipped with the proper safety precautions, as newly manufactured buses now come with seat belts as standard features. According to a Sacramento Bee report on the issue, school buses typically last 30 years. Thus, most districts would already have had to replace older buses with the new, safer designs by the time the law goes into effect. 

How Safe Are School Buses?

A school bus seat belt bill has been in discussion for some time in California, with safety issues being a focus in the Senate over the course of 2016 and 2017. Previously, there was some debate as to whether seat belts actually did much good in terms of preventing injuries. In 2002, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) concluded that with the heavy construction and seat padding that is standard in these vehicles, seat belts would have little or no safety effects. 

However, the NHTSA changed their position in 2015, advising that seat belts could help to prevent some potentially serious injuries, such as those involving the back, neck, and head. While the NHTSA maintains that school buses are still among the safest vehicles on the road, they agree that even the few school bus accident deaths that occur each year are too many. 

NBC Bay Area News reported on the most recent school bus accident in San Jose, which occurred in March 2018 on Highway 101, south of the East Hedding Street overcrossing. Six of the students on board were injured. 

Contact a San Jose, CA Car Accident Lawyer

When accidental injuries impact you or those you love, the Jachimowicz Law Group is here to help. We will work with you to determine your best options for pursuing compensation for the damages that your family has suffered. Call or contact our dedicated San Jose personal injury attorneys at 408-246-5500 to schedule a free consultation. 

Sources:

https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180AB1798

https://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Minor-Injuries-Reported-in-School-Bus-Crash-in-San-Jose-476991503.html

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