Most bus passengers do not use seatbelts, says transport authority

The car and bus crash in Mārupe municipality on Sunday, in which two people were killed and dozens injured, has also sparked debate over the use of seat belts on buses. It is unknown whether passengers used seatbelts on that particular bus, but the Road Transport Administration told Latvian Radio Monday that most bus passengers do not use seatbelts.

On Sunday, November 12, a passenger car and a public bus, which was en route from Rīga to Kuldīga, collided. Two people in the car were killed, and many on the bus injured. Police are investigating all the circumstances of what happened.

The company owning this bus is SIA “Latvian Public Bus” (Latvijas Sabiedriskais Autobuss), which is a regional local and intercity passenger carrier.

Maija Lazdiņas, the company's public relations manager, told Latvian Radio that the decision of the State Police is currently awaited in order to clearly identify the perpetrator so the company can act.

“As soon as this is known, then passengers will be able to approach us as we have compulsory legal insurance which will help cover all medical expenses. But in any case, we will help any passenger who has suffered in this tragic crash with information[..] but now we have to wait for the police decision,” Lazdiņa noted.

She said the company has no access to information on how many of the passengers were using the seatbelt during the ride, but she pointed out that the bus was fitted with seatbelts.

The problem has been repeatedly reported in the media before that a large proportion of people traveling on buses do not use seat belts for a variety of reasons, such as not seeing the point of it, not knowing that there is one, not knowing they have to do it, or believing it is safer on the bus than in the car, so there is no need for it. But under road rules, passengers whose seat is fitted with a seatbelt must be buckled up.

Representative of the Road Transport Administration Sanita Heinsbergs told Latvian Radio that the use of safety belts in buses reduces cases of injuries and increases the chance that the passenger will recover faster in the event of an accident and survive if the accident is serious.

“Following such very general observations, of course, the use of seat belts on regional buses as a basic safety measure is not yet deeply rooted at this time, but we know there are bus drivers who remind passengers of this duty every time before each trip,” Heinsberga told LR.

“Purely statistically, we don't know, but we can assume that for now most passengers are not doing this [..] while we want to remind them that not all buses have seatbelts, but if they do, we would encourage using them throughout the journey,” Heinsberga said.

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