Currently, school buses are safest means of transport for the student to travel to school. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), just four of every 25 million children die while on a bus. By contrast, almost 500 school-going children die each year in passenger cars during school travel hours. While the school buses have dozens of safety features such as padded benches that restrict the movement of the children in the event of a collision, a recent accident in Tennessee killed six children, and forces us to reconsider: is it time to implement seatbelts on school buses?
In the year 2011, the NHTSA refused the request to have seat belts in school buses countrywide. According to the organization, if 100 percent of the student wore a seat belt correctly, the measure could save up to 2 percent of the students. On the other hand, if the seatbelt reduced the capacity of school buses thus forcing the students to go to school by car, bike or foot about 10 to 19 students could die each year. According to national data, equipping a large school bus without compromising its capacity would cost between $7000-$10,000.
That being said, it’s hard to put a price on someone’s life. And according to Emroch & Kilduff, only 19 states have laws that prohibit bus drivers from using their phone (distracted driving). How can you tell a mother that she lost a child because the cost of equipping buses with a seat belt is too high?
Bus Seat Belt Safety Statistics
According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the seat belt has a significant benefit when the school bus is hit on the side or if the bus rolls over. During the investigation of accidents which occurred in New Jersey, Florida, and California, the NTSB discovered that the seatbelts minimized fatalities significantly. The most efficient seat belt is the three-point belt.
Georgia Setting the Bar?
This year Fulton County Schools became the first district in Georgia to acquire seatbelt-equipped buses. While the district intends to have more than 400 seat-belt-equipped buses for the next coming five years, neither does the state of Georgia, nor the Georgia Department of Education requires school buses to have seat-belt. Fulton could be the case study for the state for the safety of the pupils on the roads.
While some people are concerned that seat belts may not be useful for certain types of emergencies, lives saved by a seatbelt is a prove that seat belts equipped buses are safer for young are going school children in case of an accident. It is important to note that seat belts are expensive to install into a bus, but they will save children’s lives. Taking into account that there is higher survival rate of the students who buckle up, school buses should have seat belts.