Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Seat belts on school buses: a no-brainer that has never been done.

We've seen yet another story of a school bus involved in a horrific accident today, this time in Alabama. Three students were killed and more than thirty were taken to the hospital after the bus plunged thirty feet over an embankment, possibly after having been struck or cut very close to by a car driven by another student.

All of which begs the question of why this bus, like most school buses was not equipped with seat belts.

It seems to me that this should be a no-brainer and I wondered about that when I was a kid (I never had to ride a bus to school but went on them on field trips; my parents had always insisted that I buckle up, and it was on a school bus that I first encountered the experience of not having a seat belt.) Yet now, thirty plus years later, we still see this kind of story in the news (periodically-- this seems to happen once or twice every year.)

Why not? Is there any good reason not to put them there? Granted, a 'you must wear it' rule might be hard to enforce, especially among kids who are used to not wearing it (bus drivers have a tough enough job already-- though it could be argued that having kids in seat belts would cut down on the amount of hanky-panky that goes on back there) but it certainly could be enforced on field trips where there are teachers present in the bus, and even in a daily routine, they would be available to students who wanted to put them on, which is an improvement over 100% of the students being thrown around in the bus in an accident, as is the case now.

For that matter, I wonder if anyone has ever done a study on whether people who don't wear seat belts as adults often rode buses to school when they were kids? I bet the results of such a study would be interesting. As a parent, yes, as a matter of fact, I have heard from my kids when I make them put on their seat belts, 'well we didn't have to when we got on the bus to go on our field trip,' which makes it that much harder for me to get them to put it on in the car (though they do-- rule number one in my car is that all passengers will wear seat belts; but will they when they are teens, and the idea that it's not necessary was first planted in their minds courtesy of the school district?) And as a parent I really wonder about this-- if a police officer pulls me over and my kid doesn't have a seat belt on then it's a stiff fine, payable to the state of Arizona. But if my kid gets on a school bus without seat belts then the state is forcing them do what they fine me for if I let them do.

Greyhounds and other interstate buses have seatbelts, so it's not like you can't build a bus with them.

I'm frankly sick of reading (or in some cases watching video) of kids thrown around inside of school buses. There need to be seat belts on school buses. NOW.


Anonymous said...

yes, seat belts on school buses is a no brainer, i agree.

can't believe the 'powers that be' haven't done it long ago. they probably are waiting until enough fatalities occur before they get their heads outa their behind.

(that's kinda what's happening here in my town where a left turn signal needs to be installed at a busy intersection. MDOT says there hasn't been enough accidents to justify a light, i kid you not!)

*bangs head against wall*

Joe Thomas said...

Seat belts cost money.

That argument pales when you hold it up against the recent tragedy in Alabama, but it is why we do not have seat belts.

Enforcement would be an issue ( ahuge one, actually), as would vandalism, but cost is the central issue.

Do you put three belts to a seat for little kids or two to a seat for big kids? Would lap belts be enough or would that have damaged more kids in a 30-foot fall? How much more are shoulder belts?

I am not trying to dodge the issue. I am a teacher. Student safety is part of my job. Finding money for seat belts for buses will not be easy.

The real danger in student transportation is the 15-passenger van. My children will never ride in one of those, seat belts or not.

Anonymous said...

I was once a school bus driver. When I was in training we were told that the reason school buses don't have seat belts is because all of the trials (it has been tried many times) resulted in more injuries not fewer. In addition, the trials resulted a lots of injurys that were not accident related (meaning the kids hitting each other with the buckels and staps, etc.)

Anonymous said...

i honetsly think that having seatbelts on buses is a good idea because there are so many accidents now a days and god forbid that there is another school buss acident and students are hurt terribly bad. we wouldnt want that to happen at all....so i am for having seatbelts on school buses!

Ashi said...

It would be better to have seatbelts on buses,because it will decrease the amount of injuries and deaths in bus accidents. Then again, it might not be a good idea because if there was a accident how are we supposed to make sure everyone makes it out okay?

Anonymous said...

i am doing a debate in my school about seat belts in shool buses, and your info really helped me! Thanks!