Case # 1: Elizabeth’s Law
In September 2013, after nearly five years of working to enact a law that requires all school-bus drivers who are loading or unloading children to display stop signs and flashing lights, and for passing vehicles to stop for these buses on every road – including private and rural roads – HB 2170 went into effect. Efforts to enact HB 2170 came from the family of Elizabeth Bates, a Safford 8-year-old bus accident victim who was struck and killed by a car in 2008 while getting off a school bus in a mobile-home park.
Before HB 2170 was put into place, the law regarding when school bus drivers must display stop signs and lights wasn’t clear – now, school bus drivers and in turn, other drivers on the road, don’t have to guess anymore.
Case #2: Senate Bill 1115 – Seat Belts on School Buses
Arizona Sen. Barbara McGuire, D-Florence, is working to pass SB 1115 which would require all school buses purchased in Arizona to have seat belts starting in January 2015. However, Phoenix school officials are calling the bill unnecessary.
“We require our kids to be buckled up in our cars; it does not make sense to me why we wouldn’t have the same safety feature on our buses,” McGuire said. The proposed bill would not affect buses currently running without seatbelts, rather new buses will have seat belts installed and those will slowly replace the current fleet.
On the other side of the argument, school officials contend that school buses are already designed to be safe, and the bill isn’t necessary for the following reasons:
- The seat backs are cushioned to protect riders
- The seats are placed close together to help lessen the amount of movement that occurs when the driver has to make a sudden stop
- The buses are also higher off the ground than most cars, which affects where the impact occurs on the vehicle
- It can be guaranteed that students will stay buckled through the whole ride
Although there are differing views, the end goal for both sides is to ultimately keep students safe. Downtown Devil reports that, “assistant superintendent of Phoenix Elementary School District #1 Tom Lind said he thinks the seat belts may be beneficial for students in the case of an accident, but other changes could also make students safer. For example, seat backs are generally not high enough to support the necks of taller students.”
Whether a victim is a passenger on the bus, a driver or passenger of another vehicle involved in a collision with a bus, or a pedestrian, he or she may have a claim against the bus driver, employer and owner of the bus. If you or a loved one is involved in a similar situation, we urge you to contact an experienced bus accident attorney in Phoenix. At Simon Law Group, our passionate and experienced attorneys are committed to improving bus safety in the Phoenix area, as well as supporting victims of bus accidents.