The Great Seatbelt Debate

The seatbelts on school busses issue has been ignited once again. Recently, a news story aired, graphically showing test crash dummies being hurled about the inside of a bus during a simulated roll over, as well as actual footage of a roll over that took place earlier this year.  The images were disturbing, actually , they were more than that,— they were horrifying to watch. They followed up the video with a  number of statistics regarding students who were injurred in school bus crashes each year and the number of fatalities.

I am  rounding the numbers a bit, because I do not have the exact figures in front of me, but here is what I remember.

Roughly, 24,000,000 students ride a school bus every day. Of those, 7,400 are injurred in school bus accidents annually, and 11(an exact number) are fatally injurred in school bus accidents each year.  While these numbers sound daunting and definitely could be improved on, let us look at the percentage to ratio on those numbers, then compare those numbers to the amount of children injurred and killed annually by automobiles.

Using the statistics provided, this means that 0.00030 percent of students are injurred in school bus crashes each year and a smaller percentage are fatal.  I am not saying that this number is acceptable nor am I saying that it should not be improved upon.  I would like to point out, however, that every automobile on the road has seat belts and every child riding in a motorized vehicle must wear one, right.  Yet every year, more children are killed in automobile accidents than just about any other know cause of death and are the number one killer of children ages 15 – 17.

The total number of fataities for children ages 0 – 17 is listed at  roughly 35,000 annually.  I find this number staggering and far more  freightening than the school bus statistics, particularly considering that every automobile is currently equipped with seat belts where 2.35 million passengers are injured annually.

What these statistic tell me is perhaps we should be looking at some additional contributing factors, such as distracted driver issues.  Did you know that cell phone related crashes and deaths have now exceeded drunk driving crashes and deaths?  Staggering statistic, isn’t it?

I would also like to know what percentage of all school bus crashes are roll overs.

My next set of  questions  goes out to the four states that  currently require seat belts on all of their school busses.  To my knowledge, CA, NY, NJ, and TX are the four states with such requirements.

  1.  Have the states  requiring seat belts seen a dramatic reduction in injuries to children riding with seatbelt as opposed to children who do not?
  2. How do the drivers in those states ensure that each child is wearing their seatbelt at all times?
  3. Who assumes liability if a child chooses to unbuckle their belt and the bus crashes?
  4. Will these seat belts accommodate middle school and high school aged children?
  5. How do you secure kindergarteners through elementary age and size students with the same seat belts?
  6. How are drivers preventing other children from harming one another with the metal buckles as weapons?
  7. In the case of a fire onboard, how much longer does it take to evacuate a full bus with all children securely belted in their seats?

I would really like to hear from both parents and drivers on this topic. Are you for or against the prospect of installing and implementing seatbelt requirements on every school bus and why or why not?







One thought on “The Great Seatbelt Debate

  1. Linda Hilton says:

    I am against required seatbelts on school buses. My biggest concern is that in the event of a situation when the bus would have to be evacuated quickly (for instance a fire), there would not be enough time to help undo the belts of those students who are not able to do it themselves. How horrific it would be to lose precious lives unnecessarily!

    Liked by 1 person

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