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Could Seat Belts Save Lives in a Train Derailment?

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After the May 12, 2015 Amtrak derailment, many are wondering why trains are not equipped with seatbelts.

Amtrak Safety

Passengers of Amtrak train No. 188 were violently thrown about inside the cars. At least 200 passengers were taken to local hospitals and treated for injuries—injuries that may have been prevented If they were belted in.  Eight passengers lost their lives as a result of injuries sustained during the crash.

Former National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) head Deborah Hersman said in an appearance of Fox & Friends that seatbelts on trains have long been a concern. “When you look at the environment on trains, they aren’t required to restrain passengers, luggage.”

Not all experts agree. A 2006 Transit Cooperative Research Program study concluded that “Seat belts do not seem to be practical.” Experts suggest that many passengers were unlikely to use seat belts that could make things worse in a crash if unbelted passengers collided with those who were belted in.

Seat belts don’t seem to bolster safety unless everyone is wearing them, according to VOX.

Former NTSB secretary, Ray LaHood- who previously advocated for seat belts in buses- told ABC News that during frequent trips along Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, he often thought about the seat belt issue. “I think it’s something that the Department of Transportation and the NTSB should look at,” he said. “It may very well be that the NTSB, as a part of their recommendations, could very well recommend that.”

“This very same danger is repeated over and over again in school bus wrecks,” said Philadelphia personal injury lawyer Larry Coben in a Legal Examiner article. “While news of these horrible events garners attention and constantly begs the question of the need for more safety in buses and trains, nothing ever changes. History repeats itself.”