School Bus Seatbelts; Are They Really A Good Idea?
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School Bus Seatbelts; Are they really a good idea?
School buses today always seem to be upgrading with different safety features. But the question IÐ²Ð‚™m asking is if these features are really as safe as they are said to be.
There are many parents worried about the need for seat belts on a school bus and why they are not enforced and required like they are in other vehicles. Seats are higher now, with significantly thicker padding, and that padding now extends around the entire seat, eliminating the metal bar of earlier buses. Theyre closer now too, and with less room between them, the chances of additional injuries are reduced; thus making transportation of students safe without the need of installing seatbelts.
Every year, over 450,000 public school buses travel more than 4.3 billion miles transporting over 23.5 million children grades K-12 to and from school and other school-related activities. A School bus report that was sent to congress by the US Dept. of Transportation says that students are nearly 8-9 times safer when riding on a school bus than in any other vehicle. The fatality rate for school buses is 0.2 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT) compared to 1.5 fatalities per 100 million VMT for cars (USDT). This safety record is all due to the Department of TransportationÐ²Ð‚™s requirements for compartmentalization on large school buses, and seat belts plus compartmentalization on smaller buses. Compartmentalization is the name for the protective envelope created by strong, closely-spaced seats that have energy-absorbing high seat backs that protect occupants in the event of a crash therefore protecting children as defined by National Transportation Safety Board.
A very important reason for why these seat belts are not required is because the size of a bus is enormous and the greater weight means that children are less likely to become vulnerable than when in a regular vehicle. Passengers on a bus do not sit next to large windows or near doors, so it would be very unlikely for someone to be thrown from the bus. Making sure that children actually wore the seatbelts if they were installed onto a school bus would be somewhat difficult and can also cause more problems then what is seen. To make sure the belts were worn a bus driver would have to, at every stop, check the seatbelts of each child. This takes a lot of time that school buses do not have. Routes would take much longer than before.
In order to install seatbelts in every bus, a great cost will be included. The money for these new seat belts will only come out of our own pockets. The Governors Highway Safety Association said they were concerned that the funds necessary for the program would leave little if anything from each states federal highway safety money for all their competing highway safety needs and was trying to urge the Department of Transportation to rethink their funding sources. Seat belts can add $3,000-$6,000 to the cost of a new bus and reduce the number of seats 25 percent or more because the newly designed seats take up more room (STN Media). So districts would have to buy more buses, and pay more mechanics and drivers. Buying all new buses is the only way having a seatbelt law would work. Installing restraints on old buses not designed for seatbelts would put children at a much greater risk than having no seatbelts at all says Dr. Stephan Moran, a trauma surgeon from Huntsville Hospital located in Alabama.
A few scenarios or examples of what can happen when seatbelts are required on School Buses; a school bus skids on black ice, leaves the road and rolls into the ditch on its side. All 55 students on board are belted. The gas tank ruptures and there is danger of fire and explosion. The frantic bus driver begins to help students out of their seat belts. She opens the emergency exit and encourages the children she has helped to exit the bus. Other drivers stop and try to help the children to safety. Fire erupts. The driver and half of the children are trapped inside the bus because of seatbelts. This scenario may be very bleak but it could happen. One driver cannot be held responsible for getting so many