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.