1 Buckling Up is a Must
As kids, we knew exactly what to do when we're all set for a road trip. After packing our gadgets, snacks, books, and board games, we would just hop into the back seat of the car and let our parents take us on an adventurous ride. However, before pulling out of the driveway, there is one thing that our parents always ensured. It is to make sure we had fastened our seatbelts and were properly buckled up. While riding a truck or a car, we must always wear our seat belts.
It is such a mundane activity to perform that nobody ever really thinks about it much. Fastening the seatbelts ensures safety. They can actually save your life and lessen the injuries, in case, God forbids, you ever meet with an automobile accident. However, if you are like most children across the country, there is one ride that doesn't want you to wear any seat belts. It is a ride to your school! In fact, most of the school buses of the United States do not even have seat belts. Have you ever thought about how?? We shall find out here.
2 School Buses Don’t Need Seat Belts
Today, the government of the United States does not need seat belts on school buses weighing more than 10,000 pounds. It has been confirmed by NHTSA or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Lighter buses do need seat belts as per the Federal law, but for the large buses, the decision of the seat belts is left to the states. To date, just six states, namely Texas, New York, New Jersey, Louisiana, Florida, and California need seat belts on their school buses, and few of these states only need them on the newer buses.
The simple reason for the federal government not needing seat belts on school buses is that they do not require them. In a cost/benefit study, the cost to add seat belts in school buses outweighs the potential benefits, as per the NHTSA analyses. Today's school buses are heavy and large, and the seats go relatively high. So, the passengers are seated pretty high off the floor. It makes them remarkably sage. Every year, more than 400,000 school buses move over 4 billion million, carrying around 25 million kids. Yet, less than ten kids die every year in school bus accidents. Studies have also shown that seat belts wouldn't have saved most of these deaths.
3 The Design of a School Bus
School buses are built in a way to give optimum safety. They come with plenty of cushioning and high backs. Moreover, the insides are packed together very tightly to provide compartmentalization. At the time of a collision or crash, most of the impact gets absorbed by the seats, protecting the passengers seated in them. If you compare the various modes of transport, around 800 kids die every year while biking, walking, or riding in a car to or from the schools. It is therefore concluded by the National Safety Council that school buses are forty times safer than an average family car. It makes them the safest form of ground transportation till now. (See Why was School Created?)
4 The Cons of Adding Seatbelts
As mentioned earlier, adding seat belts in school buses would be pretty costly. Secondly, experts are yet to agree on what kind of seat belt should even be added. As kids are restless and move a lot, there are very few chances of them actually using seats or using them properly, if installed. Bus drivers should obviously not be the ones responsible for enforcing the proper use of seat belts as they should entirely focus on driving, with undivided attention. As experts opine that installing seat belts in school buses would not have any significant safety impacts, most states have decided not to add them to the school buses.
There is also not enough benefit or points favouring or justifying the costs of installing seat belts in school buses. The cost of doing so is also quite high. As per the estimates, installing seat belts in school buses can easily cost more than $100 million to each state. Moreover, experts also believe that installing seat belts in school buses can reduce the overall capacity of the bus. If that happens, fewer kids will ride buses, and the others might have to go for different modes of transport to go to and from schools. It is obviously would prove to be riskier than riding school buses with no seat belts.