For many years, it has been a debate as to whether or not seatbelts should be installed on tour buses, and after recent data reported that nearly 60 percent of fatalities on tour buses occurred when the vehicle was overturned, bus companies are deciding in favor of installation.
The Department of Transportation’s National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration said in a 2010 report that seatbelts might reduce fatalities in rollover accidents by 77 percent. Data from the traffic safety agency show that between 2003 and 2009, 133 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents. In a 2010 statement, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said,
Seat belts save lives, and putting them in motor coaches just makes sense.
With new regulations this year that are expected to require seatbelts on tour buses, many companies have already begun to implement the change. Greyhound, the nation’s largest interstate bus company, has seatbelts in 75 percent of its motor coaches. Greyhound was just one of the many bus companies who saw seatbelt requirements as inevitable.
But installing the restraints won’t be enough to see change. According to the National School Transportation Association, New York is the only state that requires seatbelts on school buses but does not insist on students using them. Because of this lack of enforcement, the percentage of students who choose to wear them is close to zero.
The manufacturers and bus companies are ready– they are simply waiting on the Department of Public Transportation to make a final ruling. Although this likely future requirement is a step in the right direction for bus safety, bus passengers should also be required to actually use the restraints. If it is the law to wear a seatbelt in any other motor vehicle, why shouldn’t it be mandatory to wear them on buses? Seatbelts save lives. It’s as simple as that.