In the US, seatbelts have been required in passenger cars for decades and the CDC has reported that they have saved roughly a quarter-million lives since 1977[1]. However, there are mass-occupancy vehicles that use our roadways daily that do not require seatbelts for all passengers.

The primary example of this is the school bus. While required by regulation in some states and jurisdictions, there is no Federal mandate for seatbelts on school buses. While legislation has been proposed[2], there is no school bus seatbelt requirement in Washington State.

A poll conducted by the National Education Association’s NEA Today magazine reported that 53% of respondents favored seat belts compared to 47% who were opposed[3]. However, the NEA outlines the main concerns, often expressed by bus drivers themselves, as follows:

  • Student use of belt buckles as weapons, causing injury to themselves and/or others.
  • Inability to enforce proper usage of seatbelts.
  • Difficulty evacuating panicked students in case of an emergency.

Since it is not uncommon for a bus driver to be solely responsible for large groups of students, these factors have carried a lot of weight in the ongoing discussion about the role of seatbelts on our nation’s school buses.

Most municipal city buses also do not require their passengers to wear seatbelts, nor require them as an option, and there have been studies of rail transportation that may support the aforementioned bullet-point about compromised ability to evacuate during an emergency[4].

On May 23, 2018, the National Transportation Safety Board announced a recommendation to implement seatbelts on all new school buses[5]. As more and more states enact or consider seatbelt requirements for large buses, we can expect more data points and studies to ensure we as a society are making the safest choices possible.







State and county regulators have begun reviewing three oil terminal projects that have the potential of bringing millions of gallons of crude oil through the state every day. The Port of Vancouver is the site of the largest of the three proposed undertakings. The $110 million Tesoro Corporation and Savage Company facility could handle as much as 380,000 barrels of crude oil a day.

Westway has its sights set on Grays Harbor, the proposed location of the second project that could handle up to 9.6 million barrels of oil every year. Also, Imperium Renewables has plans for an expansion that would increase its storage capacity by an additional 720,000 barrels.

In response to this proposed increase in crude oil transportation, lawmakers are proposing regulations that would require full disclosure to the public concerning information about the transport of oil by rail. Others want to propose a bill that includes a provision to extend a tax of 5 cents a barrel on oil arriving by rail. This tax would pay for state oil spill response and preparedness.

Already, trains are carrying oil through Spokane, the Tri-cities, along the Columbia River and up the Interstate 5 corridor from the Bakken region of North Dakota that produces a particularly volatile type of crude. Typically, one train has approximately 100 cars, each with the capacity to hold 28,000 gallons of crude.

Growing Safety Concerns

Oil has been transported through Washington by train for years, but with rail traffic increasing over the past few years and even more being proposed, safety concerns have escalated.

A succession of deadly and catastrophic train accidents in the past year involving oil from the Bakken region has elicited concerns about fire and other safety issues. It is estimated that three such trains already pass through Seattle every week.

Spurred into action by these recent tragedies, the Seattle City Council has proposed restricting oil shipments through the city until further safety studies can be conducted. It is also urging the state to temporarily halt any oil-by-rail projects until the dangers can be more fully evaluated.

Accidents that involve trains can result in very serious injury. Add a volatile chemical to that accident and it will certainly be catastrophic. If you or a loved one have been hurt in a train accident, don’t hesitate to call a personal injury attorney immediately.