“Click it or Ticket,” is the threat that has prompted thousands more Americans to buckle up since the punitive campaign launched two years ago. Since more than 15,000 people not wearing seat belts are killed each year, it’s considered irresponsible not to strap in while zooming along the highway. But when it comes to large commercial vehicles, seat belts are considered less essential. This week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched a campaign that could save dozens of lives each year by requiring commercial bus passengers to ‘click it’ as well.
To a certain extent, the lack of seat belts on commercial vehicles is understandable. Due simply to their size, commercial carriers are much safer than personal vehicles and result in far fewer injuries and fatalities. But every year, reports the NHTSA, 20 bus passengers are killed in accidents, and nearly 800 are injured. The risk of being killed in a rollover crash is expected to drop by 77 percent, says the agency. “We’re committed to making sure that motorcoach travelers reach their destinations safely,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Seat belts save lives, and putting them in motorcoaches just makes sense.”
Due to the financial burden imposed by the addition of seat belts, the NHTSA only requires that new vehicles comply with the new regulations. NHTSA predicts that the measure will cost $25.8 million each year at a rate of $13,000 per bus. The number of lives saved should vary depending on the number of passengers who actually wear their seat belts. But the agency predicts that the societal benefits of the new regulations will outweigh the economic costs if just 24 percent of passengers buckle up.
The NHTSA is seeking public comment on the seat belt initiative online at www.regulations.gov. Click through and weigh in if you’d like to see stricter seat belt laws on commercial busses. We’ll keep you updated on this debate and stay tuned for our analysis of a similar campaign to require the use of seat belts on school busses.