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Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Seatbelts on School Buses

Carpundit has been advocating seatbelts for schoolbuses, and I agree with him. I am not convinced by the arguments I have read that kids shouldn't be belted in. In any collision with a heavy or stationary object, the kids will fly around and knock into one another, or be ejected, as recently happened when a school bus collided with a garbage truck, killing a student and injuring many.

A major benefit to seatbelts: kids that are belted in will be less likely to engage in fighting or other disruptive behavior, since their mobility will be limited.

There are a few arguments that I have heard against seatbelts in buses that make any real sense. The first is that kids that are belted in will have a harder time escaping the bus, should it be on fire or under water. But, as Carpundit points out, these types of accidents are extremely rare.

I have read that when seatbelts are installed in buses, kids won't use them. But this is an enforcement issue. If kids are taught from an early age to buckle up, and bus drivers do a check to make sure that kids are wearing belts, the usage rate will improve. Eventually, it will be a habit.

Another argument is cost. Buses are not cheap to begin with, coming in at around $50,000 for a 72 passenger bus, and they are in service for around 15 years. If seatbelts cost $25 per seat, that is $1800, or a whopping 3% increase in cost. Amortized over 15 years, (without interest), we are looking at all of $120/year/bus for seatbelts.

A more subtle cost argument is that the money would be more effectively spent on student and driver training than seatbelts, that there would be better value in accident avoidance. The problem here is that there may not be enough statistical data out there to draw a solid conclusion. On the other hand, we know from first principles that seatbelts save lives.

There is an in depth article on this subject here.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yah, just what we need, a bunch of seven year olds frigging around with their seat belt while the entire working population sits parked behind a bus waiting to go. And, remember these buses tend to make more than one stop per trip.

Anonymous said...

This issue has been studied to death. Very, very, very few children incur injuries on school buses that would have been prevented by the use of seatbelts. It's like, a couple a year. The millions of dollars it would cost (and the huge amounts of wasted time, as noted above) are not worth the benefit. For the same money, many more lives could be saved in other areas such as ESC and improved braking technology.

Anonymous said...

Another argument against belts is that the kids would beat each other with them. Seriously.

Anonymous said...

I agree with #3 ABSOLUTELY. Anyone who thinks seatbelts in school buses is a good idea must not remember what childhood was like. The metal buckle on the end of a seat belt would make an EXCELLENT instrument of terror for bus-riding bullies. I can imagine the welts now...

Anonymous said...

I agree there should be seatbelts on school buses,they preach on how a child can fly from the rear seat of a car on impact if not belted,well how about the distance on the big yellow buses,I cannot believe so many children are getting hurt and killed because of not having seat belts,my grandson rides a bus and he is 5 and I worry all the time,he is always protected in our own personal vehichles and they he gets on a bus and no protection,someone needs to get some brains here!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Get real people,worrying about kids beating each other with belt buckle,if parents do their job kids will behave and so what if traffic has to wait for a bunch of 7 yearolds to put thier belts on,a child's life is more important!!You are a really stupid person to even say something like that.A couple a year of injuries or death is TOO much,what are you people thinking,I think you's are coldhearted and don't have children or know what it is to lose a child,I do and it is a horrible life to live after the death of a child.SEATBELTS ON SCHOOL BUSES A MUST!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Saving the lives of children and preventing injuries should be TOP PRIORITY! Start using your God given brains. You should be ashamed of yourselves for thinking otherwise!!

concerned grandparent said...

Think about it. From infancy, children are buckled in, facing the back of the car, to facing front, to a chair seat, to a booster seat, and finally to a seat belt when age/height appropriate. It's automatic for children to belt themselves in; more so than many adults I might add. Don't you think kids wonder why they have no seat belts when they take their first trip on a school bus?? It's not rocket science. Do we only protect our children in our cars? Why not the major school transportation? It makes no sense to me and I will continue to pursue the use of seat belts on school buses until it's done!!

Anonymous said...

school buses are already made to be safe, why add seatbelts? everyone has a right to worry, but with seatbelts, imagine if the bs flipped over, which is very possible with most buses. with seatbelts, they would be dangling from their seats, and they may not be able to get out. also, seat belts could slow an escape if something else were to happen.

Anonymous said...

i agree with the poster above me. it could be dangrous to have seatelts in buses.

The Auto Prophet said...

If the bus flips over, the kids will bounce off of the walls and roof, risking head and neck injuries. If they are dangling, as you say, then they are restrained.

Anonymous said...

Are you stupid or something!?!?!? Seriously....are you saying you would rather have 20 seriously injured kids, possibly even dead, than all of them scared as hell but fortunatly just hanging from their seats?!?! I think all you people that don't worry about children riding in school buses unrestrained don't even have kids..so please go do whatever you do best and stop leaving such stupid and unreasonable comments. Kudos to all you worried parents and I totally support this issue.

Anonymous said...

I am a former school bus driver and have seen first hand what happens to children not belted in to seats during a side and rollover accident. So what if they are left hanging upside down at least they are not laying in the floor or roof section of the bus with a neck or brain injuries.
So what if it adds cost to building a school bus, if your children are safer, and as far as the studies done on buses, look at the studie done by UCLA,it says that two point belts are need to make the compartmentalization to work. Whats a childs life worth?

Anonymous said...

i'm doing a debate on scool buses and if they should have seatbelts . my profeser put me on team b so i have to say seatbelts shouldnt be on buses but logicaly in some casess it would be safe in some it wouldnt.

Anonymous said...

as a schoolbus driver i used to drive one but was in accident so i don't drive any more but yes i do belive seatbelts shool buses should have seatbelts on the buses buses i also know full well yes u can do seat belt checks but as a speial needs school bus driver or for that matter any schoolbu driver u can't alway make shure the children are wearing the seat belt what are u to do check at every stop to check then that makes the driver late for school or home and u can't force a child to wear it so if u safty schoolbus trainers are so great then u tell us as drivers what are u to do i belive school buses need attendents on all schoolbuses not just for the speial needs schoolbuses u need a attendet on all buses that way the driver can drive and the attendet can make shure children are wearing the seatbelt in the way it should on but no shoolbus companies don't want to have attendnts on the buses why because they have to pay the attendent and say we don't have that kind of money to pay out to a attendent well think of it this way then what if u hire pepole who are on a fixed income from the goverment and is only aloud to make so much money so they can work and still get they goverment check at least they are not sitting at home being lazy