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Diatribe: School Buses Should Have Seat Belts So Kids Won’t Die!

03/14/2012

We didn’t always have seat belts.  Baby boomers will remember a time when children road on “the hump” or in the back window.  Eventually, seatbelts were no longer an optional accessory and they became mandatory in all cars and trucks … then shoulder straps … then car seats.  Now, in many places there are laws about how tall a child must be or how much they must weigh before they can legally ride in a motor vehicle without a special seat.

Except school buses.

School buses are, essentially, the same as they were fifty years ago.  While the mechanics and machinery under the hood may have improved over the years, the clumsy seating inside continues to be manufactured with the assumption that these buses will not be involved in traffic accidents.  There are no seat belts.

On Monday, there were several serious accidents involving school buses including one with fatalities.  School bus drivers are often required by law to receive more training than other drivers including student management and first aid.  These same drivers must tether their own children in their personal vehicles but safety restraints not required when dozens of young lives are transported on the very same roads.  This doesn’t make sense.  And this is what happens:

Federal law required that buses under 10,000 pounds be equipped with seat belts.  Unfortunately, that’s only a small number of the school buses in use (mostly the 6- to 12-passenger buses often used for special needs children) and they’re treated like cars because of their similar low weight and center of gravity.  But the larger dinosaur buses are much heavier and the passengers sit much higher so they’re, presumably, safer in collisions and federal education and transportation agencies leave the decision up to the states.  Only six require seat belts to be installed.

School administrators insist that seat belts are costly and take up room on the bus that is needed to fit more students.  Others believe that shoulder belts can cause serious neck or abdominal injuries to smaller passengers.  But saving lives should outweigh any of these risks.  Funds for a seatbelt project could come from many places including the redistribution of funds budgeted to athletics, corporate bus sponsorships, sales of advertising space on the buses or nominal fees charged to the parents whose children ride the buses.

Why aren’t One Million Moms worried about THIS?  This is a cause they should rally behind.  Instead of making a fuss about who is featured in commercials for JC Penney or what kind of comic books are sold at Toys ‘R’ Us, maybe these moms could focus their time and attention on saving young lives with seat belts.

Copyright © 2012 www.DiatribesAndOvations.com
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From → Diatribes

15 Comments
  1. This has been a hot button issue since I rode the schoolbus.
    And THAT was a horsedrawn schoolbus!

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    • I never rode the bus to school. I was always able to walk. I did ride them for field trips and band outings but it was in the days before madatory seatbelts so we didn’t think anything of it when we bounced onto the floor.

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  2. I have been saying this for years. It would keep the buggers in line, too, so why don’t the drivers campaign for it?

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  3. You have made such a good point. When it comes to One Million Moms on this we might as well cue the crickets! I’ve always thought this was the strangest thing. Thanks for putting it out there!

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  4. Another example of how our priorities are backwards at times. We have politicians more worried about who can marry who vs putting our kids at risk on a daily basis. I sure hope it doesn’t take a massive rash of incidents to get peoples attention.

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  5. I absolutely agree with you on this, and have also been saying it for years.
    I teach fifth grade, and there is nothing more frustrating and difficult than a field trip where I am asked to keep 50 eleven year olds seated quietly and facing front for an hour or more as we head to our destination. The bus drivers keep barking at the kids, telling them that they won’t be “safe” if the bus has to stop quickly.
    Seatbelts are just an obvious answer!
    To this teacher, this is further proof that as a society, we really do not value our children.

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  6. Even when buses are equipped with seat belts, kids often will not wear them. One county in Virginia argued recently to halt its practice of installing belts in buses because of this. I am not sure why the county could not simply make it a requirement that all children buckle up, but this is a difficulty worth noting. Seat belts on buses are useless if we do not also require that children wear them.

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  7. Please please please petition this on change.org. Petition the federal government to make it federal law that every bus in every state have seat belts in America. The government is not making this mandatory because it will cost more money. They are putting money saving before the precious lives of our children. If we don’t step up and do something now. We are voluntarily putting our children on a death list for school bus accidents. Please take this seriously and do this. Email me the petition and I will get people to sign it. Michellec77@gmail.com thank you!

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  8. Excellent post. It’s so easy for kids to get jostled around and hurt themselves on a bus. They really should make bus seat belts mandatory. I’m so surprised that this isn’t a bigger issue.

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  1. Kids All Over America Are Being Put On Buses During School Terror Drills « CITIZEN.BLOGGER.1984+ GUNNY.G BLOG.EMAIL

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