The question of whether seat belts should be required on school buses seems obvious. Seat belts save lives. But it turns out, the question isn’t so simple. When National Education Association members with the most hands-on experience in bus safety, the bus drivers themselves, are asked this question, most have concerns and are opposed to seat belts.
Their concerns include:
- Students can, and do, use the heavy belt buckles as weapons, injuring other passengers.
- It is next to impossible to make sure that all the students keep their seat belts properly fastened, so they are not injured by the belts in an accident.
- If the bus had to be evacuated in an emergency, panicked or disoriented students might be trapped by their belts.
- Most bus drivers contend with up to 50-70 students at a time. Most school districts do not provide aides to assist the driver with discipline and safety. With their back to the students and contending with traffic and bad weather, the drivers have no way of enforcing compliance concerning use of seat belts.
Many bus drivers complain that they are not supported by administrators when they encounter student discipline problems and feel support would do a lot more to protect the students from harm than would a “quick fix” like seat belts.
When drivers weigh these concerns against the many safety features already built into the design of school buses, they conclude that, in their opinion, school buses are safer without seat belts.