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.

New Indiana Rule Enhances Safety for Youngest Passengers

Posted on: March 19th, 2018 by Staff

You may want to prepare for a safety directive underway in one state that could soon cascade across the country. A new regulation in Indiana Administrative Code enhances the safety of the youngest children who ride school buses. The reason for the regulation, the increased safety its implementation will provide, and what restraints are recommended, are worth diving into.

The new rule went into effect January 1, 2018, and states that any pre-K child riding in a school bus in Indiana must be secured in a proper age, weight, and size FMVSS 213 compliant child restraint system. When you think about all the children in public school or private childcare programs, this literally affects thousands of young children. This directive does not, however, apply to children attending kindergarten, elementary, middle, or high school.

Compartmentalization was never designed and doesn’t work to protect pre-K children on the bus. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found children weighing less than 50 pounds need more protection than compartmentalization provides. Why? Because their bodies have not physically developed enough to handle the impact to the seat in front of them without causing internal injuries.

For compartmentalization to be most effective, a child also needs to be sitting in proper position – upright and forward-facing. For most pre-K children, this is an unrealistic expectation. They tend to lay down on the seat, sit sideways, or in some cases, move around. CSRS, Child Safety Restraint Systems, are the solution to better protect these passengers, and there are several options available.

Three children sit on a school bus seat in their SafeGuard SuperSTARS.The first, school bus specific add-on child restraint systems, are the most popular. Like the SafeGuard STAR or SuperSTAR, they attach to the bus seat using straps called the cam wrap, which wraps over the seat back and sometimes under the seat cushion. These restraints are lightweight, portable, and take up little space. Some are even available for children weighing up to 90 pounds and may offer options for additional upper body support needed for some students.

Safety vests and safety harnesses are other common options for school buses. These restraints also attach to the school bus seat by means of a cam wrap. They are frequently used for special needs applications in school buses and even passenger cars.

Cam wraps negatively affect the performance of compartmentalization. That’s why NHTSA requires a label that states the seat behind the cam wrap must either be unoccupied or used only by a passenger who is also restrained by a CSRS or seat belt.

Another choice is the integrated child seat, or built-in child restraint. This restraint is built into the seat with a 5-point harness. They are easy to use, and no installation is needed. A flap covering the child restraint folds down to create the seating surface. Just as with regular car seats, these can be adjusted for snugness, height, and do have weight and size limitations.

The last option is conventional car seats, but they are limited by the fact that they must be installed using a seat belt or LATCH and may be difficult to install on a school bus seat. However, when transporting infants, the rear-facing infant passenger car seat is the only option available.

While your state may not have a law mandating the use of CSRS yet, knowing about Indiana’s efforts to better protect their youngest school bus riders can help your district do the same.

Snowy Weather Means Additional Challenges for School Bus Drivers

Posted on: December 12th, 2013 by admin No Comments

As I write this blog post, there is a beautiful fresh coat of snow on the ground. Winter has officially arrived, albeit a little early. We also got a little ice as an “added bonus.” More is in the forecast for today, but most of our schools are sticking to their regular schedules. That means many school buses will likely be navigating some tricky road conditions as they bring children home this afternoon. Bus drivers may face additional challenges on the streets that haven’t been plowed or salted, and with a bus full of rowdy children who just want to get home and play outside, I don’t envy them.

 

This time of year, it’s par for the course, or should I say, road. School buses have to make their way through snow and ice. We’ve all seen the news reports where one or more of them in our districts have slid off or been in an accident. Sometimes they even overturn when a tire leaves the road and suddenly the driver finds the bus tipping into a ditch the snow obscured a half second before. At SafeGuard®, we always want children to have the added protection seat belts on the school bus can bring, but in the winter time, imagine the difference they could make. Bus drivers can better focus on slippery roads. Students would be seated properly rather than in positions that could increase their chances of being injured.
Photo Credit – JF Nadeau/Radio-Canada

 

SafeGuard recently conducted two separate events to demonstrate what happens in a frontal crash when students are out of position. The results were alarming. Compartmentalization is intended to save their lives, but in an accident, the results can still lead to concussions and spinal cord injuries when the children are slammed into the seats and other students. Watch what happened at SafeGuard’s most recent crash test event. The out of position “students” did not fare well, while those in seat belts were considerably more protected.

 

The bus was only going 30mph, and this was a frontal crash, the kind of crash where compartmentalization is supposed to work best. Now imagine how badly it could fail when a bus slides off an icy road and rolls over.

Driving a bus is a tough job made more difficult by snow and ice. When I hear people say that compartmentalization is safe enough, I wonder if they would still agree after experiencing crashes like these first hand. I’m sure for the parents whose children suffer bloody noses, concussions and even worse from the very system designed to protect them might agree that “good enough” is not enough. Not when their children could have potentially been spared such injuries had then been wearing seat belts.

Marissa Cotten
December 12, 2013

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Moving Forward in School Bus Safety

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

Wednesday, November 13, 2013
WESTFIELD, IN

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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.

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Seat Belts on Buses Do Not Slow Evacuations

Posted on: September 13th, 2013 by admin

For years, SafeGuard has heard excuse after excuse against using lap-shoulder belts on school buses, but there is one in particular we hear from parents. They fear a scenario where seat belts could slow or prevent their child from evacuating in a serious accident. The reality is that without seat belts on your child’s school bus, children might not be able to evacuate at all.

When a school bus rolls over and children aren’t belted in, they are far more likely to suffer serious injuries or to be knocked unconscious, making evacuation more difficult if not impossible without the help of others. The videos below show what happens to unbelted children in a rollover. They are tossed about, slamming into everything from the ceiling to other children, dramatically increasing their risk of injury. The children who are belted in remain safely and securely in their seats.

The seat belts SafeGuard puts on school buses are no different than the ones in your car. Children learn from an early age how to buckle and unbuckle their seat belts, and in the event of an accident on the school bus, it takes a child a second or less to push the button and release himself. By Federal Safety Standards, the force required to push the release button is the same as what your child experiences in your vehicle, even when the belt is under a load such as that caused by the weight of a passenger in a rollover.

What can slow down evacuations is the limit of one person at a time through the rear emergency exit and/or the front door. The use of the side exit windows and roof hatches are an extreme rarity in evacuations, and are even much slower. Lap-shoulder belts help speed up the evacuation process. It is far easier for a conscious, uninjured child to escape.

Just like drills inside the school building, the same kind of emergency preparation should be conducted for students who ride the bus, so children know what to do and where to go in the event of an accident. Being prepared, whether they have seat belts or not, helps keep them calmer and also helps them to evacuate more quickly.

Lap-shoulder belts also help protect your children in other types of crashes as well as sudden stops. When children aren’t wearing lap-shoulder belts on the school bus, a sudden stop propels them into the seat in front of them, often causing minor injuries. When they’re belted in, this doesn’t happen.

It’s time to move past the misinformation that’s been circulating for decades about lap-shoulder belts on school buses. The fact is there is absolutely no proof that seat belts slow the evacuation process. What has been proven is that seat belts can save lives.

No More Excuses – It’s Time for Seat Belts on School Buses.

Posted on: August 30th, 2013 by admin No Comments

There are No More Excuses® — it’s time for seat belts on school buses. With this inforgraphic below, you’ll find out the new statistics and innovations around school buses seat belts as well as the most common misconceptions on the bottom half of the graphic.

Want more information on School Bus Safety? Click here & here for articles we’ve written on the topic.

Want to start a movement in your community for seat belts on school buses? Join us on Facebook, and click here for more advocate resources.

Download the hi-res version here, and share it with your friends!

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