Some safety experts say school bus passengers should be belted


March 31, 2022 | View PDF

SPRINGFIELD: When it comes to hitching a ride to school, we're told by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that riding a school bus is the safest way to go about it. In fact, the NHTSA reports that while four to six school-age children die each year in school-owned vehicles, school buses are the safest roadway travel mode.

While those kinds of statistics are impressive, the Springfield School District wanted to know, "if school buses really are safer than cars, why don't most school buses have seat belts," Stanly Slocum, the district's transportation manager, told the school board last week.

Fran Brecker overplayed the extent of her injuries after her husband's errant ball set off a chain of events last Saturday.

A lot of it comes down to how they're designed. Unlike other vehicles on the road today, traffic analysts say school buses offer better crash and rollover protection. That's because they use "compartmentalization," which includes spacing seats close together. Additionally, seats in school buses feature high, energy-absorbing backs. That feature is said to prevent children from being tossed around in a crash.

As safe as school buses are, it's important to note that most school buses don't have seat belts. While such belts are an absolute necessity in most cars and have been since 1968, that's not always the case with school buses. And if you're wondering why? It's because seat belts just aren't necessary for school buses, the NHTSA reports.

"There is no question that seat belts play an important role in keeping passengers safe in these vehicles. But school buses are different by design, including a different kind of safety restraint system that works extremely well," the NHTSA explains.

And that safety restraint system? It's all in how school buses are designed. "Through compartmentalization, children are protected from crashes by strong, closely-spaced seats that have energy-absorbing seat backs," the NHTSA says.

However, while most school buses don't have seat belts, some do. In fact, the NHTSA requires that small buses or school vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or less must be equipped with lap or lap/shoulder belts.

School buses are designed with your child's safety in mind officials say.. And while they may not come readily equipped with seat belts, the NHTSA reports that's OK."

April 1st, 2022


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