When Compartmentalization Doesn’t Work

Posted on: March 19th, 2018 by Staff

Compartmentalization works.

Except when it doesn’t. When it doesn’t, you will wish you had lap-shoulder belts on your school bus.

Whether it is a side impact from a truck, or a rollover on the interstate, compartmentalization is not designed to protect children in either case. Kids go flying, especially in a rollover, where they are thrown around like human pinballs. They strike the roof, the walls, the seats, and often each other. When the bus comes to rest, if those kids are still conscious, they’re often in a confused, disoriented, and pain-filled pile, making it harder for them to evacuate.

Watch for yourself what happens in a rollover with belted and unbelted passengers.

The Griffith High School basketball team in Griffith, Indiana was on their way to the state semifinals when they experienced this nightmare firsthand. Struck by a small Kia on the interstate, the bus was forced off the road where it rolled onto its roof, which crushed at the impact. Players reported bodies ricocheting around the interior of the bus, smashing into broken windows and one another. When they students were able to crawl out through shattered windows, many were bloodied, and one coach had to be airlifted due to his injuries. There were no seat belts on their bus to keep them safely in their seats during the crash.

Some bus drivers express concern that in a crash like this, they’ll have to cut students out of their seat belts, but lap-shoulder belts are just like the ones in your car. They are designed to release at the click of a button, even when someone is in the seat belt hanging upside down. It is far easier for a driver to evacuate children who are calmer, conscious, and spared from more serious injuries caused by being thrown around the interior of the bus. Carrying out unconscious children or children with broken bones is a far worse scenario.

Photo of Griffith High School School Bus on its roof after a rollover.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Miano, The Times

What happened to the Griffith basketball team is a perfect example of why districts that want to take the proactive step of adding seat belts should start with their travel and activity buses. Used for sporting events, field trips, and school activities, these buses are more likely to leave behind relatively slower speeds on neighborhood streets for highways and interstates where they can travel 55 mph or more. Surrounded by heavier traffic and vehicles matching or exceeding the school bus in size, travel buses are the most at risk for serious crashes like the one the Griffith High School team endured. Starting with lap-shoulder belts on these buses simply makes when it comes to protection as well as the district’s bottom line.

It also makes sense for parents is you have to explain why you can’t outfit your whole fleet with lap-shoulder belts at once. Chances are their children will ride on an activity bus in the near future, whether it be for a football game or a field trip, and parents will have better peace of mind knowing their children are protected by the best seat belt technology available.

The Griffith High School basketball team was lucky. Even though many of the players were hurt, no one received life threatening injuries, but rollovers like this one don’t always end on that note. Children are our most precious cargo, and they deserve to be protected by lap-shoulder belts on their school buses, especially when compartmentalization, the only protection many of them have, isn’t enough.

Moving Forward in School Bus Safety

Posted on: November 14th, 2013 by admin 1 Comment

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


SafeGuard®, a brand of IMMI® – the leading manufacturer of commercial safety, hosted it’s 14th School Bus Crash at the Center for Advanced Product Evaluation (CAPE®). Safety industry leaders – insurance companies, Indiana State Police officers, school bus manufacturers, and support staff – were all in attendance to witness a School Bus Safety presentation and a live demonstration of a School Bus crash.

SafeGuard and CAPE have tested more School Bus Seats than anyone else in the country. In this crash test, we placed test dummies in several different positions — restrained in three-point SafeGuard seat belts, unrestrained in base seats with out seat belts, and out-of-position (looking over the back of the seat, sitting sideways, etc.). The visual results tell the story. Are school buses safe? No one debates that. However, could they potentially be made safer for our children with increased safety measures like adding lap-shoulder belts? Absolutely.


Common Misinformation About Seat Belts on School Buses

  1. Compartmentalization is enough protection for students.
    FALSE. Just look what happens in a rollover – both in a real one, and in a crash test.
  2. Seat belts slow down evacuations.
    FALSE. Click here to learn how seat belts help evacuations.
  3. Seat belts reduce school bus capacity.
    FALSE. The capacity issue has been solved with the FlexSeat which comfortable fits 2 older children or 3 younger children with the added safety benefits of lap-shoulder seat belts.
  4. Seat belts can be used as weapons on the school bus.
    FALSE. While this may have been true with the older-style lap belts, our SafeGuard lap-shoulder belts are RETRACTABLE. The seat belt webbing (strap) retracts into the seat back, as they do in your car. The buckles are lightweight, making them virtually impossible to be used as weapons. Seat belts as weapons? It’s just not true anymore. Seat belts can actually improve behavior on the school bus by helping keep kids in their seats. Find out why by clicking here.
  5. Outfitting a bus with seat belts costs too much.
    FALSE. With SafeGuard belts on school buses, it’s only pennies per day over the life of a school bus (12 – 16 years). Technological advances and volume increases that have lowered costs, so Safeguard belts have never been more affordable. Costs have been reduced by as much as 52% since 2003. SafeGuard lap-shoulder belts are a one-time cost, for the life of the bus.

High-Res Gallery

Click on the thumbnail to view the full-size images. To download, click the thumbnails, right-click the large image, and select “Save Image As”.

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School Bus Safety 101

Posted on: August 9th, 2013 by admin

On Thursday, August 8, IMMI, the manufacturer of SafeGuard seats hosted “SafeGuard: School Bus Safety 101.” Indiana Congresswoman Susan Brooks, school officials, federal safety representatives, parents, and law enforcement leaders were presented with the facts and misinformation surrounding school buses and lap-shoulder belts. They all witnessed a live crash demonstration of a school bus into our CAPE facility‘s barrier wall.

The result? A realization that there are No More Excuses. School buses remain the safest form of transportation, but let’s make them safer. Lap-shoulder belts reduce injuries, reduce driver distraction, and improve bad behavior on school buses. In addition to this article, please refer to this infographic that will help provide the additional information you may be seeking.

If you would like to revisit other topics covered during this event, we live-tweeted on Twitter using the #BusSafety101 hashtag, so feel free to read through and catch up on what happened.




Seems like common sense to want seat belts on school buses, right? What’s stopping the safety trend? There are several forms of misinformation out there that we are dispelling.

MYTH #1. Compartmentalization (higher seat backs and extra seat padding) is enough to protect students in school buses.
“School buses are the safest form of transportation with many government manufacturing standards,” IMMI Vice President James Johnson assured the guests. “But the current standards do not adequately protect students in the event of a side roll or a rollover crash event.” Compartmentalization, in other words, does well when the school bus is in a frontal or a rear crash, but it has some huge safety weaknesses.

How glaring is the safety issue of a side roll/rollover crash in a school bus without seat belts? Here are two videos to demonstrate the need for lap-shoulder seat belts to prevent serious injuries in these events.


Fact #1: Compartmentalization, while effective, is not enough protection for students on school buses.

MYTH #2: Seat belts on school buses slow down evacuations.

This simply isn’t true. With over 200,000 of our SafeGuard seats in use today, we surveyed and interviewed students, bus drivers, transportation directors and board members. Drivers told us that even during an accident on their bus, it wasn’t the seat belts that slowed students downit was the bottleneck that occurred at the exit points (the rear door, front door, and window exits).

FACT #2: Seat belts HELP evacuations. An uninjured child can evacuate more quickly than an injured, or unconscious child.

MYTH #3: Seat belts can be used as weapons on the school bus.

While this may have been true with the older-style lap belts, our SafeGuard lap-shoulder belts are RETRACTABLE. The seat belt webbing (strap) retracts into the seat back, as they do in your car. The buckles are lightweight, making them virtually impossible to be used as weapons. Seat belts as weapons? It’s just not true anymore.

In fact, our customers have reported that the behavior on their school buses equipped with SafeGuard lap-shoulder belts (and an enforced usage policy) has drastically improved. When students are required to stay seated and facing forward, it makes for a better behaved bus, less reported incidents of bullying, and increased safety.

FACT #3: Seat belts actually improve behavior in the school bus, and they CANNOT be used as weapons.

See for yourself. Check out this video in which bus drivers, transportation directors, and school officials describe their experiences with SafeGuard lap-shoulder belts.