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Wear a seatbelt on a bus

Do I Have to Wear a Seatbelt on a Bus?

The invention of and use of seatbelts in motor vehicles has decreased both injuries and deaths in roadway collisions. Seatbelts have been required on passenger cars since 1968. Seatbelts ensure vehicle occupants remain secured in the event of a powerful movement or jolt caused by a collision, a sudden stop, or another type of accident. Seatbelts also work with other vehicle safety mechanisms, like airbags, to further ensure driver and passenger safety. So, if the statistics show safety belts make life on the road safer for everyone, why aren’t they mandated for use in buses? And, you may be asking yourself, do I have to wear a seatbelt on a bus?

Buses are designed to be safer than your average passenger vehicle, as they are heavier, larger, their passengers sit higher up off of the ground, and they don’t generally travel at high speeds. Up until very recently, the federal government and its associated agencies believed the inherent increased safety of a bus coupled with its need to be able to transport large groups of passengers were sufficient reasons to not require the provision of or use of seatbelts on buses. The compartmentalization of passengers, the increased cost of adding seatbelts and retrofitting buses, and the reduction in space for potential passengers all worked against the government mandating or even suggesting bus seatbelt use. Despite this, however, there is an average of 21 bus passenger fatalities and more than 7,900 bus passenger injuries every year.

From school-age children to working professionals, many different kinds of people ride a bus daily. Throughout California, and especially in big cities like Sacramento, buses are responsible for transporting tens of thousands of people each day. Our bus accident lawyers have experience handling cases involving public buses, school buses, commuter buses, tour buses, charter buses, shuttle buses, party buses, and more. If you or someone you care about was injured while riding on a bus, you should speak with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible to obtain guidance on the best course of action for your particular set of circumstances.

California School Bus Seatbelt Laws

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) sets national standards for school bus safety and requires three-point seat belts (lap and shoulder belts) on school buses weighing less than 10,000 pounds. However, NHTSA allows individual states to determine whether seat belts on larger school buses are required. California is one of only six states that requires seat belts on school buses. California law requires three-point seat belts on (1) school buses manufactured on and after July 1, 2005, that carry more than 16 passengers, and (2) all other school buses manufactured on and after July 1, 2004. It requires school transportation providers to give priority to elementary school students when allocating seat-belt-equipped school buses. State regulations require school bus passengers to (1) use the seat belts and (2) be taught how to use them in an age-appropriate manner.

California Commercial Bus Seatbelt Laws

A California state law that went into effect in July 2018 now requires drivers and passengers of commercial buses, such as Greyhound, to wear seatbelts. The law includes a $20 fine for the first violation and a $50 fine for the next. Fines are also applied if you do not comply on behalf of minors in your care. Parents are legally responsible for making sure their children under 16 are buckled up on a commercial bus as well. The companies of charter buses are also responsible for children using seatbelts.

The new California bus seatbelt laws require bus operators to provide seatbelts for all seats and maintain them in good working condition. With those safety belts available and working, all passengers over 16 must use them and all passengers between age eight and 16 must be secured by one. Children under age eight should also be properly restrained. Passengers traveling on buses without seatbelts available can’t be held legally responsible (or fined) for failing to use them.

Common Bus Accident Injuries

Buses are operated by private businesses, government entities, and other companies. A bus driver, a bus company, a public transit authority, a school district, a responsible third party, and many more entities may be wholly or partly responsible for a bus accident and the resulting damage. Regardless of who owns, operates, maintains, services, or was driving the bus at the time of an accident, the following injuries are common:

  • Head injury
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Neck injury
  • Back injury
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Internal injury
  • Amputation
  • Burn injury

California Personal Injury Lawyers

When a serious bus accident occurs, the consequences can be significant not only for the passengers on board but also for their loved ones. If you have been injured in a bus accident, you should reach out to the experienced bus accident lawyers at Curtis Legal Group. Our legal team has the skills needed to help clients like you successfully resolve bus accident claims for financial compensation.