Everyone in Alabama should know that car crashes can result in injuries. Here’s an important question you might have asked though: Why are seat belts not required on your child’s school bus? You would think that because seat belts are required by law in other vehicles that the same would apply to your child’s bus, but that isn’t the case. In fact, officials claim that seat belts aren’t beneficial on buses in most scenarios, although they are in car accidents.
A Feb. 23 report explains why. According to the news, an accident on Feb.14, which involved a school bus and an SUV, left several people dead and multiple people injured. The surprise, though, was that all of the badly injured individuals were in the SUV, not on the bus. While students may have suffered minor injuries, most were fine following the accident. Why is this? While seat belt use in cars has been promoted, the idea that they help on buses is one that not everyone in enforcement shares.
According to the news, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued a new rule that does require lap and shoulder seat belts for passengers and drivers on new motorcoaches and large buses. But, when it comes to school buses, the only models that require seat belts weigh less than 10,000 pounds. Only six states actually require school buses to have seat belts right now; those include California, Florida, New York, New Jersey, Texas and Louisiana.
Some argue that additional restraints aren’t necessary. Buses are designed to keep passengers safe through compartmentalization, which means that because passengers are tucked in tightly between seats, they’re less likely to be thrown, and if they are thrown forward, the seat in front should absorb the impact. Of course, it’s been argued that compartmentalization doesn’t protect in the case of rollovers, since some passengers may be thrown from their seats. Although this may be the case, there are conflicting laws and evidence that may need to be discussed.
Source: The Advertiser, “Seat belt use is required in other vehicles, but why not school buses?” Claire Taylor, Feb. 23, 2014