If cars have seatbelts, why aren’t they generally required in school buses? Because modern school buses are already remarkably safe, and studies show seat belts don’t work the same way in buses as they do in cars. Numerous federal and academic studies have concluded that school buses are the safest form of ground transportation of all. The National Safety Council says they are about 40 times safer than the family car.
Over 440,000 public buses carry 24 million children more that 4.3 billion miles a year. Yet only about six children die each year in bus accidents. This is according to statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2010. The statistics also find that, in contrast, about 800 children die each year from walking, biking or while being driven to school in cars or other passenger vehicles.
Designers of modern school buses don’t trust fidgety children to use seat belts properly. Instead designers use a system called compartmentalization. Bus seats are packed closely together to not only maximize capacity, but also to contain the children in case of an impact. The child will go against the seat and that will absorb most of the impact. Plus it is a safety device to keep the child from projecting through the air.
Next week we will talk about concerns and risks of seat belts in school buses.