The Pros and Cons of Seat Belts in School Buses
Recently the news has been full of school bus accidents where children have been seriously injured or killed. Those who are for seat belts in school buses are adamant that the devices will prevent serious injury or death if a school bus is T-boned or in the case of a rollover. It's true that the majority of school buses involved in accidents are hit from the side or at an angle. Very few school buses are involved in head-on or rear-end collisions. However, there are two sides to every story.
Opponents of seat belts in school buses give us a different view of the effectiveness of seat belts for students who ride buses to and from school. They feel that the construction of compartment seats, metal seat frames, padded crash barriers and seats protect children and greatly reduce the effectiveness of seat belts.
Let's look at a crash scenario in a school bus where seat belts have been installed. Most students have strapped themselves, but some have not. The bus is involved in an accident. On impact, the children who are not wearing seat belts are slammed into the students who are strapped in. These children not only absorb their own body weight, but also that of the children who slam into them. This doubles the crash impact for the belted students and serious injury may occur.
Let's look at another crash scenario. A school bus skids on black ice, leaves the road and rolls into the ditch on its side. All 55 students on board are belted. The gas tank ruptures and there is danger of fire and explosion. The frantic bus driver begins to help students out of their seat belts. She opens the emergency exit and encourages the children she has helped to exit the bus. Other drivers stop and try to help the children to safety. Fire erupts. The driver and half of the children are trapped inside the bus.
This last scenario is bleak but it could happen. One driver cannot be held responsible for getting so many students out of seat belts should a tragic accident occur. Are students safer in a school bus if they are belted in? It all depends on the circumstances. Let's look at some other pros and cons of seat belts in school buses.
There are many pros and cons to the school bus seat belt controversy. Now that you are aware of the pros and cons, you will be able to make an educated decision on the controversial subject.