Safe Seat.

busA lot of school buses still don’t have seat belts. I don’t know if there’s an accurate counting, and there probably isn’t because it’s something most people don’t think about unless something happens. The rest of the time if it comes up it’s usually controversial because of the cost–estimated between $7000 and $11000 per bus, although that would, for older buses, be a one-time charge. Seat belts could–and should–be installed in new buses. When I was a kid in school it came up occasionally, usually when there was an accident. I thought about it whenever I had to stand up in the back of the bus because there weren’t enough seats and I was unlucky enough to have a class on the far side of school which meant I was one of the last to get to the bus, although the only time I ever felt like I was really in danger was the time we had a substitute driver who not only didn’t know the route but apparently didn’t know how to drive a bus either and at one point took us up a steep hill, stopped halfway, then shifted into neutral so we started rolling backward. I realized the only safety instructions we’d gotten–keep all body parts inside the windows and in the event of an emergency exit through the back door–wouldn’t do a lot of good.

Admittedly neither would seat belts but it’s still criminally irresponsible that legislators agree that adults in private vehicles should be required to wear seat belts but when it comes to the same safety measure on buses they remain stuck in neutral. That’s what I thought of following a tragic bus crash in Chattanooga. Could any of the kids who lost their lives been saved by seat belts? Maybe not, but if even one life is lost because buses don’t have seat belts then the cost is too high.

7 Comments

  1. Paula

    I am sure the lawmakers drive their own kids to school. It was tragic what happened in Chattanooga. Too bad no one listened the children and parents complaints.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      That’s a great point–there were complaints which makes the crash in Chattanooga doubly tragic. It could have been lessened but it potentially could have been prevented too. And I think most lawmakers send their kids to private schools so the public schools are less of a concern for them.

      Reply
  2. Ann Koplow

    I don’t feel neutral about this either, Chris. Great post.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Thank you. Sometimes I just have to get up on the soapbox. Hopefully adding my voice to the chorus will help push some change.

      Reply
  3. Mrs Fancy-Pants

    I remember reading that seatbelts were less essential on buses than in cars. I think there was a scientific reason, but do you think I can remember it? No, I can’t. I would think they would still be pretty damn useful in high speed collisions.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I can’t think of a scientific reason but just speculating I do get that most bus passengers are farther from the front than they would be in a smaller vehicle. Still in any collision it would help to have something to keep even the kids in the back from being flung forward. And school buses seem to be prone to tipping over. There’d be fewer injuries in those cases if seatbelts held the riders in place.

      Reply
      1. Mrs Fancy-Pants

        I looked into it to jog my memory after I commented and it’s called compartmentalization, and whether it works depends on the style of the bus. (Don’t know if this link will work) http://www.hw-lawfirm.com/what-part-does-compartmentalization-play-in-school-bus-safety/

        It’s definitely not the case for all buses though

        Reply

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