Why don’t school buses have seatbelts?
Our school bus crashed on Friday.
It was a dark and rainy afternoon and the bus, with 46 high school children on board, went off the road (on a notorious black spot on the highway) and into a ditch. There were no serious injuries but the bus driver and about 10 children went to hospital with shock and bruises. The children had to wait in the rain until alternative transportation was arranged. The bus was later towed away.
The bus had been on its way to pick up the school children from our primary school and to take everyone, along dangerous rural roads, to our little town. My children don’t get the bus (our son’s ASD makes bus travel complicated, for a number of reasons which I won’t go into here). I’m glad the primary school children weren’t on the bus when it came off the road. It would have been quite scary for them.
The thing that annoys me is that the bus doesn’t have seatbelts. In fact many school buses in Australia and around the world don’t have seatbelts.
I did some research on the internet to find out why this is the case and some of the arguments are a bit suspect. Here are a few:
- It is safer without seatbelts (e.g., in the event of an accident younger children may not be able to release the seatbelt and they might be trapped in the bus);
- Children come in all shapes and sizes and seatbelts would have to be adjusted to provide the correct protection (the seatbelt might cause damage if not fitted correctly);
- Seats on buses are compartmentalised (close and high-backed padded seats provide sufficient protection in a crash) – note, this ignores the effects of rear-end, lateral and rollover collisions;
- Seatbelts are too expensive to install in older buses;
- Children won’t wear seatbelts even if they are installed in the bus;
- Bullying is rife on school buses and some children may use the seatbelts as weapons (to choke or restrain other children);
You know what I think! I think that money is the main reason seatbelts are not installed on buses. That is not a good enough reason.
What are we waiting for? Why do we always have to have fatalities before we fix things like black spots on the road, or make it mandatory that school buses have seatbelts.
What do you think?