On May 22, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended that all school buses across the U.S. be equipped with both lap and shoulder belts. It also recommended that New York, along with New Jersey, Florida and Louisiana, upgrade their requirement to include shoulder belts rather than lap belts alone.
The NTSB has also stated that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration should make it mandatory for school buses to be equipped with automatic emergency braking systems. AEB systems are usually connected to a collision warning system and can detect impending crashes in front of the bus. In emergencies where the bus driver does not apply the brakes, it can do so automatically to mitigate the collision.
These safety recommendations were made during an investigative meeting of two school bus crashes that occurred back in 2016. One took place in Baltimore, the other in Chattanooga. Together, they resulted in 12 deaths and 37 injuries.
The NTSB specializes in investigating transportation accidents, and its findings are considered influential as many companies and transportation regulators support them despite the board's lack of regulatory authority. Concerned parents may want to follow up on whether the board's advice is taken up by the appropriate state officials.
Victims of bus accidents may be eligible for compensation, but preparing and filing a personal injury claim might be a difficult process without legal assistance. If the victim is a child, the parents may file in his or her stead.
Once a lawyer determines that the claim is valid, he or she might hire third-party experts to gather proof of the bus driver's negligence, such as eyewitness testimony or camera footage. The lawyer may then be able to negotiate for a fair settlement with the bus service provider, litigating as a last resort.