With all that is written today about the debate of adding seat belts to school buses, there is one district that is removing them from their fleet. The Aspen School District of Colorado has removed all seat belts from its largest school buses due to safety concerns. According to the district’s transportation director, Gary Vavra, laps belts can be more damaging to the human body in frontal accidents than none at all. He went on to say that they decided it was safer to take them off than leave them on.
Large school buses are designed to be seven times safer than passenger cars or lights trucks, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Such buses protect passengers through a concept called “compartmentalization,” which provides a “protective envelope consisting of strong, closely-spaced seats that have energy-absorbing seat backs,” according to the NHTSA’s website.
Lap belts on young children fall across the abdominal area and can result in internal injuries in the event of a crash. Additionally, lap belts only restrain older or taller students at the hips, which can result in serious head, neck or spinal injuries in the event of a severe frontal crash.
Vavra said less than 1 percent of Aspen School District students who ride the bus used the lap belt. A higher percentage, however, used them as a weapon to hit other students, which was another mark against the lap belt. “From now on, I would recommend that new buses have three-point seat belts,” said Vavra.
Statistics show that many school districts agree with him on installing three-point seat belts, which are shown to be safer.