In accordance with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommendations, new school buses in Iowa will now be equipped with three point passenger safety belts. Although school bus travel is by and large one of the safest modes of travel, the board’s investigation of school bus crashes that have occurred indicate that seat belts are a needed improvement to prevent injuries and fatalities.
A legislative panel heard from educators and the public who supported the change, some who noted that “normal everyday vehicles have seat belts, so kids should be in seat belts on buses”. Although some concerns were raised that students would be unable to evacuate quickly in emergency situations, a bus safety expert reassured those concerned that, with proper training, young students will up to the task. The new rules proposed by the state education department were approved by state lawmakers and all new school buses purchased by Iowa school districts must include seat belts beginning next month.
Safety features approved also call for school buses to include a second stop arm that extends out of the side of a bus when students are dropped off or picked up and exterior boarding lights. These added features will alert motorists to the presence of students on and off boarding, helping to protect children from motor vehicle traffic. Motorists that encounter a school bus are reminded to stop their vehicle completely and wait when school buses are in the process of picking up or dropping off students. Yellow lights indicate a bus is preparing to stop and flashing red lights accompanied by an extended stop sign or arms signals drivers in either lane to stop 10 to 20 feet away and wait while passengers disembark always mindful that children’s movements are often unpredictable.
An added bonus to having seat belts on school buses is that children will more likely remain in their seats for travel to and from school, on field trips and other activities. This reduces driver distraction, a major cause of motor vehicle accidents across the nation. While many immediately think of drivers on cell phones when considering distracted driving, the reality is that any activity that diverts attention from driving can put drivers and their passengers at risk. Limiting distractions in the cabin by having kids buckled up in their assigned seats on school buses will keep drivers’ eyes on the road reducing the chance of being in an accident that may include other motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians outside of the bus who are more typically at risk for injuries in a school bus related accident.
If you or a family member has been injured in a Quad Cities motor vehicle accident, contact the Davenport car accident personal injury attorneys of McDonald, Woodward & Carlson PC for immediate assistance today at 563-355-6478.