In 34 states, a law enforcement officer can pull over a passenger vehicle and issue a ticket just because the occupants are not wearing seat belts. In another 15 states, the officer can write a ticket for not wearing a belt if the vehicle is pulled over for another reason, like speeding.
The reason seat belts are required by law for occupants of passenger vehicles is because they save lives. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that seat belts reduce the risk of death for front-seat drivers and passengers involved in a crash by 45 percent and cut the risk of serious injury by 50 percent.
Why, then, aren't seat belts required for bus passengers?
In some cases, they are. Six states require school buses to have seat belts for each child, even though there are also other safety measures like high-backed, padded seats.
And in November 2016, motorcoach-style buses -- anything that's not a school or transit bus -- will be required to have lap and shoulder belts for the driver and each passenger to improve bus safety. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) believes this will reduce fatalities by up to 44 percent and reduce moderate to severe injuries by up to 45 percent.
Should you order your bus with seat belts?
If you are purchasing a bus for use on longer drives or between cities, it will be mandatory for you to have belts for every seat. In this case, you will definitely need to order seat belts.
A school bus will need belts if your state or municipality requires it, but otherwise, you do not need them. Some drivers actually are against school bus seat belts, because:
- There are already safety measures in place that protect kids, and more kids are injured getting to and away from the bus than are hurt in accidents; and
- It's difficult to ensure all students are properly buckled unless additional school personnel are riding each bus.
However, seat belts are one more way to keep precious kids safe, so it makes sense that you consider having them installed in any school bus you purchase as an additional safeguard.
What about other types of buses? Regular transit buses that make multiple stops in a small area are under no legal requirement to have belts -- and it may be inconvenient to include them.
That leaves specialty buses, such as airport shuttles, casino shuttles, prison buses and other similar vehicles. The best rule of thumb is to include seat belts on buses that will carry passengers for more than a few minutes. Contact us for all of your vehicle needs, seatbelts or not! We will find one that suits your situation.