The question has been asked time and time again – why aren’t there seat belts on school buses? With the recent school bus rollover in Illinois, this question is fresh on everyone’s mind. Did you know that SafeGuard lap-shoulder belts increase safety and also decrease bad behavior? It’s a win-win situation for everyone – the parents, the students, and the bus drivers.
According to this article from the Chicago Tribune, school bus seat belts are a tough sell. Why is that? Opponents of seat belts on school bus will list several myths that are either (1) outdated or (2) just plain wrong. What are these common myths? Check them out in our infographic below, or click here for a list.
Why is it Time for Seat Belts on School Buses?
Get the hard facts, statistics, and nationwide history of seat belts on school buses in our infographic below. Share this with your friends, and start the community movement to get seat belts on your district’s school buses TODAY.
1. “Compartmentalization Keeps Children Safe Enough.”
Compartmentalization, developed in the 1960s, requires closely spaced, energy absorbing, high-back padded seats. In a frontal crash, children impact the seat in front of them, and that seat absorbs their energy. Now, 50 years later, testing shows that compartmentalization offers protection in frontal & in rear crashes if the children are properly seated, but offers virtually no protection in rollovers or side impacts (1999 NTSB Special Investigation Report). Research by NHTSA indicates that lap-shoulder belts, in very vehicle they have ever been introduced, reduce injuries and fatalites by 45%.
2. “Seat Belts Reduce Bus Capacity.”
In the past, seat designs that included lap-shoulder belts reduced capacity and required a school district to purchase additional buses & reduce routes. However, the capacity issue has been solved! The SafeGuard FlexSeat® offers lap-shoulder seat belt protection and transports 3 elementary age children or 2 high school age children on a standard seat. No additional buses are required, and the fleet capacity is unchanged.
3. “Seat Belts Will Be Used As Weapons.”
In the past, some lap belts (note: different from the recommended lap-shoulder belts) were designed with a massive steel buckle threaded on a long web, making it possible to swing. However, SafeGuard lap-shoulder belts use a lightweight design with a retractable system. The buckle is attached to the seat with a short piece of webbing, making it nearly impossible to swing and use it as a weapon.
4. “Seat Belts Make it Difficult for Children to Evacuate.”
Students are less likely to be injured in a bus accident if they are wearing a lap-shoulder seat belt. A properly restrained child who has not been injured can release himself and evacuate more quickly than an injured child. Buckles are designed to meet federal motor vehicle safety standards. They are thoroughly tested to unlatch with just the push of a button, even in the event of a rollover.
5. “Children Won’t Wear Seat Belts on the School Bus.”
From the moment they are born, children are conditioned to wear seat belts while in any kind of moving vehicle. Studies have shown that with proper and enforced policies in place, administered by the school district, seat belt usage rates can be very high. As with any other bus behavior policy, seat belt usage must be actively reinforced fro the safety of the children.
Within this video, you’ll find testimonials from school districts that were able to effectively enforce seat belt usage:
6. “Seat Belts are Too Expensive.”
The life of a school bus nowadays 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 28% since 2003.