Aging School Bus Fleet Without Seatbelts Causes Numerous Injuries

In the Los Angeles Unified School District, buses built for more than 16 passengers are supposed to have three-point seat belts like most passenger cars carry. Budgetary issues mean that standard hasn’t been met, and thousands of students every day run the risk of serious injury as a result. On October 25, parents and students received a painful reminder of that fact, according to the Los Angeles Times:

The school bus in which 21 people were injured when it flipped on its side after being broadsided by a speeding BMW in Boyle Heights is among hundreds of buses transporting students in the Los Angeles Unified School District that are not equipped with seat belts.

[It] is a reflection of the district’s aging fleet, in which two-thirds of the buses still lack restraints, according to district figures.

The afternoon collision occurred when the teenage driver of the BMW ran a red light at First and Soto streets, struck and killed a pedestrian and plowed into the bus, authorities said. The bus was upended and skidded into a plaza outside a Metro station, tossing many of the 46 student-passengers from their seats.

While bus manufacturers used to be able to argue that the high seats and small sizes of the occupants means that buses remain safe, as district transportation manager Enrique Boull’t told the Times, the increased risk for students for potential injury remains.

More than 250 buses are in line to be purchased for the district, but they will be phased in over time, meaning the old-style seats without restraints remain in use.

[Image: EvelynGiggles via Flickr]