Why Do Alaska Buses Not Have Seat Belts for Passengers?


It may not be a topic you think of often, but there is a simple reason that buses in Alaska do not have seatbelts installed for occupants — safety. Research reveals that their size and design enable buses to offer enhanced protection for passengers, making them up to 40 times safer than automobiles. Statistics from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) support this theory and reveal a key fact: The vast majority of bus crash fatalities are not riding the bus. Around 50 passengers are killed in the 240 collisions that take place every year, while the total deaths from bus accidents averages 280.

Statistics alone may not be enough to help understand why buses do not come equipped with seatbelts for passengers. Parents of school-age children certainly have concerns, so it is reassuring to know that these collisions are covered by Alaska personal injury laws. An Anchorage bus accident attorney can assist with your legal remedies, but some additional information on seatbelt usage on these vehicles is useful.


Severe injuries are more common. Seatbelts in cars draw from the design of the vehicle, seat, and placement to protect occupants. The same safety restraints in buses would not properly distribute the force of a violent impact, potentially causing more serious harm to the passenger.


Compartmentalization protects passengers. Buses are better at ensuring the safety of occupants because of the seats: They are bolted to the floor and installed close together, so riders are less likely to be tossed around the cabin. Plus, the seats have cushioning and pads that are specially designed to absorb the energy of a crash. Overall, bus seats are similar to how an egg carton protects its contents.


Travel is mainly local. Many municipal routes and school buses will never enter the highway, so they are not traveling along with other traffic at high speeds. With speed limits at 45 mph or under in the areas most buses travel, the damage is far less catastrophic.


Evacuation is more efficient. This reason for not installing seatbelts on buses means a lot to parents who fear that their child would not be able to get out after an accident. The operator may not be able to dedicate attention to each of the 50+ child passengers, so one that struggles to get free of the seatbelt may be trapped.


Seatbelts are not required. Put simply, federal law on large trucks and buses does not require vehicles over 10,000 pounds to be equipped with seatbelts. Most school, public, and long-haul buses weigh well in excess of this limit.


Speak to an Alaska Bus Accident Lawyer About Legal Remedies

If you were hurt in a bus crash, you may be entitled to recover compensation for your medical costs, pain and suffering, and other losses. To learn more about the process for seeking monetary damages, please contact Power & Power Law. We can set up a free consultation at our offices in Anchorage, Alaska, to review your circumstances and determine how to proceed.