Buses still use safety technology developed in the 1970s

While a school bus does remain one of the safest forms of transportation, outside of the work SafeGuard has done with lap-shoulder belts and integrated child seating, not a lot of new safety initiatives have been advanced inside school buses since 1977.  Can you imagine if your own car or child seat was still using 1977 safety equipment?  Just to demonstrate –the technology adapted in 1977, called compartmentalization, does nothing to protect kids in a situation like the one on the left.

 

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The fact is, school buses can be made even safer with lap-shoulder belts.   Watch the difference in a simulated rollover with belted versus unbelted ATDs (test dummies). It’s obvious that lap-shoulder belts can make a big difference, but resistance to putting them on school buses still persists. Why?  Because of misinformation.Despite evidence that seat belts save lives, reduce injuries, curb bullying, improve behavior, and decrease driver distraction, districts won’t put them on their buses.   It’s become a matter of priorities, and clearly, for many, this isn’t one of them.

 

We held a one of a kind event in August to deal with many of the myths getting in the way of better protecting students.School Bus Safety 101 invited superintendents, national and local lawmakers, school board members, first responders, media, and parents to witness firsthand what happens in a school bus crash by showing them a live demonstration.We also tackled all of the misinformation that too many believed true about seat belts on school buses. Do any of these sound familiar?

You can watch the presentation for yourself.

 

Myth: Seat belts slow down evacuations.

Fact: If you watched either of the videos above, you saw one of the worst case scenarios – a rollover. Students are tossed about the interior of the bus like clothes in a dryer. They strike other students, seats, windows, and even the ceiling. When a child is buckled up, they are far less likely to be seriously injured and can evacuate easily at the click of a button, even if they are upside down. When they are not buckled up and are thrown around the interior of the bus, resulting in more serious injuries, they are slower to evacuate if they are capable of evacuating at all.

Myth: School buses are safe enough, a.k.a. “Compartmentalization works.”

Fact: Compartmentalization is a big word for a simple idea. Like eggs in a carton, the concept of compartmentalization is to place children between two high-backed, energy-absorbing seats. In a frontal or rear collision (or even sudden stops) children can be thrown into the seat in front of them. While they may be spared more serious injuries, they are often still injured, receiving everything from bumps and bruises to concussions. Seat belts could prevent a number of these injuries.

It’s also worth noting that compartmentalization does not work in side impacts or rollovers, as the videos above so graphically depicted.

Finally, compartmentalization is only effective when children are seated facing forward with their feet on the floor at all times. When you rode the bus, did you always sit that way?

Myth: Seat belts will be used as weapon.

Fact: SafeGuard lap-shoulder belts have been on school buses for more than a decade and we’ve never received a single report of them being used as a weapon. Our belts are just like the ones in your car. They’re on a short strap that retracts into the seat. If a student wishes to harm another student, there are unfortunately other items such as backpacks, tablets and lunchboxes that are far easier to swing.

Myth: Installing seat belts will reduce the number of seats, forcing my district to buy more buses.

Fact: SafeGuard invented the FlexSeat to solve this issue. Our FlexSeats will seat three elementary school children or two high school children in a single seat, just like a regular school bus seat without belts. Your district will not lose a single row or seat. They will not have to buy more buses.

Myth: Seat belts cost too much

Fact: The life of a school bus can be between 12 and 16 years.  With SafeGuard belts on school buses, it’s only pennies per day.  In addition to technological advances and volume increases that have lowered costs, Safeguard belts have never been more affordable.  Costs have been reduced by as much as 52% since 2003.   Did you know that some school districts are instead choosing to spend $5000 per year so their buses can be “wireless”?  SafeGuard lap-shoulder belts are a one-time cost, for the life of the bus.

 

Better Behavior — the Benefits Don’t End with Safety

Now that we have the misinformation out of the way, let’s look at some of the additional benefits of seat belts on school buses, and they’re BIG. You don’t have to take our word for it, though. Two districts share their experiences with installing lap-shoulder belts in this video.You know seat belts reduce injuries and save lives. That’s the most important benefit. What surprises parents, and what many districts are happily discovering, is the impact lap-shoulder belts have on behavior when paired with an enforced usage policy.

 

Bullying

As many as 93% of bus drivers report witnessing bullying on their school buses. School districts with lap-shoulder belts, assigned seating, and an enforced usage policy have found that bullying has been significantly reduced, and in some cases eliminated entirely, on their school buses.

“Kids were off the walls with no seat belts. With the seat belts, discipline has been reduced by 90 to 95%.”

~ Monica Coburn
Bartholomew County
Transportation Manager

 

Improved Behavior and Decreased Driver Distraction

Imagine driving a 10-ton vehicle with your back to 60 young kids?  Sound challenging?  That’s because it is.

Kids get rowdy, because they are kids. They walk the aisle, lean over their seat to talk to others behind them, and turn sideways to talk to the kids across the aisle. All of these things increase driver distraction, which is potentially dangerous for not only the students on the bus, but for everyone on the road. Seat belts ensure students are seated correctly. One district reported that discipline issues on one of their most troubled buses improved 90 to 95% when they switched to SafeGuard seat belts. Even though their drivers were initially against the idea, they came around very quickly when they experienced the results.

“Within a week of making them wear the seat belts, my bus totally turned around.”

~ Terry S.
Bus Driver

As you can see, there are No More Excuses™ for keeping lap-shoulder belts off our children’s school buses. It’s time to better protect our kids. It’s time to give our bus drivers better behaved buses. It’s time for SafeGuard.

 

advocate button If you would like more information or if you would like one of our safety experts to visit your district to discuss the benefits of seat belts, we’d love to provide you with some advocate resources. You can also call us at 877-447-2305 or email us at safeguard@imminet.com.

At SafeGuard®, keeping children safer in moving vehicles is what we strive to do. As part of IMMI®, a global company whose products also help to protect soldiers, firefighters, and truckers, SafeGuard is committed to Bringing Safety to People™ all over the world. We were the first to introduce lap-shoulder belts (like the ones in your car) on school buses. We solved the capacity issue so that no school district would lose seats on their school buses. We’re also home to CAPE, the Center for Advanced Product Evaluation, a crash test facility that has safety tested more child car seats and school bus seats than anyone else in the world.