A school bus transporting young students from a Head Start program in South Carolina was involved in a traffic accident on the afternoon of Monday, November 9, 2015, when a young woman driving a car allegedly ran a red light and slammed into the bus, causing it to overturn. Although all seven people on board the bus at the time were injured in the collision, all are expected to survive their injuries.
One student’s mother credits the bus being equipped with seatbelts as the reason why her four-year-old child is still alive. Although many buses do not have seat belts, some smaller buses—such as small school buses or paratransit buses—are equipped with restraint devices. Seatbelt installation can be cost prohibitive, and in some instances can actually provide an extra hurdle for first responders to cross when attempting to extract people from a crashed vehicle. However, in accidents like this one, where the bus overturns and passengers run the risk of being flung across the bus or out of windows, seatbelts can save lives.
Two adults and five young students were traveling on the bus when a 19-year-old female driving a sedan slammed into the bus and caused the crash. The sedan’s driver has been identified as Ginger Espes. The South Carolina Highway Patrol have reported that the woman is being charged with failure to obey a traffic signal. It is not known whether Espes herself was injured in the crash.
According to the South Carolina Department of Public Safety, older buses are not required to be seatbelt equipped, while newer buses have seatbelts installed as a standard. Officials from Carolina Community Actions, the entity responsible for running the Head Start program in Chester County, South Carolina, have stated that all their Head Start buses have seatbelts in order to ensure the safety of their young passengers.