Monday, March 20, 2017

School buses were designed to be the safest mode of transport for kids, so why don't they have seatbelts?

The question comes up often: If cars and trucks have seat belts, why not the buses carrying some tens of millions of kids each day?

When a school bus in Chattanooga, Tennessee, slammed into a tree in November 2016, and killed six elementary school students, a decades-old debate resurfaced: Why don’t school buses have seat belts, and would seat belts actually make buses safer?

if you'd like to read the whole article and the school bus safety history:


  1. My wife is a bus assistant.
    Her comment was "How in the hell are you gonna get them all on and have them stay on?"

    1. Simple. Most cars have had seat belt sensors for years.... well, when they add seatbelts to buses, include the sensor, and the driver will instantly know if anyone undoes their belt. Right? Right. Past that, it goes back to the bus drivers job of keeping the kids from not being reckless... after all, what keeps the kids from jumping out the windows? The bus driver. What keeps high school kids from having sex on the bus? The bus driver. What keeps the kids from beating the hell out of the whipping boy? The bus driver. So, it seems clear that making kids keep the damn belt on and fastened ought to be nothing short of a walk in the park.

  2. School buses have high backed seats to keep them in the seating compartment even without seat belts.
    I had typed a lengthy response, but when I clicked on the link, it took my tab to it instead of opening a new one and I lost about 15 minutes of thought...

    You mention the bus accident from Tennessee in 2016. Seat belts probably wouldn't have saved those kids. Have you seen the photos? The tree nearly tore the bus in half from the roof down.
    Buses are super safe, obviously one or two freak accidents might end up with loss of life, but over all, a kid is safe in a school bus.
    There are some early accidents that happened, '70's in Kentucky I believe, that resulted in Kentucky having the strictest bus standards in the country. Most states go with the flow from that state.
    Its an interesting read, if you look up worst school bus accidents... Including a Crown bus that flipped off a California on ramp in the 50's... They found that, one of the reasons was the constuction of the ramp was all wrong, and too sharp. They didnt get around to fixing it until the 2000's...

    Bus drivers cant do everything. A few years ago, while at the "filling station" at the corner, we were watching traffic go by, and the line of buses going from the High School to the Middle School started going by. One of them had to stop for the light. In the 2nd to last window, was a young lady with only a brazier on, and a bunch of guys from the seats around her, lurched over the seats looking. When she turned and looked out the window, and noticed us adults looking at her, her shirt flew back on in a blink of an eye.
    Bus drivers keep the kids at bay. Their main job is to safely drive 13 tons of bus around, keeping an eye out for the world coming at them.

    1. Ok, you have given me some links to look up that I'll have to get to after work tonight, but, you haven't said why belts are a bad idea, similarly, you haven't said why they aren't a good idea.
      Also, if high backs and "super safe" is all it takes to remove the legal necessity of using seatbelts, then damn it my 8 air bags and crumple zones and 5 star safety rated car must be "super safe" and I require equal treatment.

  3. Well, you wouldnt be able to see over a high backed seat to drive if there was a seat between you and the windshield. Also, a school bus seat is on a ridged frame with soft padding. Remember when you were a kid, the seats were low, the top might have had a steel bar across it and then when the removed that, they put a steel handle in the top corner so you had something to hold on to as you traversed the isle? Your car seat is full of plastic gears and notches so that you can adjust the seat. And your cars airbags are designed to keep you safe in a fairly slow collision.
    Have you ever noticed that school buses are built up on a truck chassis and not with an integral frame as in a city bus? They are built that was so that occupants are above most cars. I always thought that it was strange that little kids had to walk up a steep set of stairs to ride the bus. The reason, the higher frame height allows automobiles to, if they get hit, go under the floor, instead of into the passenger compartment.
    For example, what happens to a city bus while an 82 year old comes flying off I81 knowing the ramp ends quickly at a light. This happened a few months ago in the city I live in.

    Belts are not a bad idea, but there are issues with the type of belts on the buses currently. In the late 90's lap belts started showing up on buses in NY. We were not required to wear them as they has a slight issue, well one that folks noticed. As a 7 year old kid, wearing just the lap belt, when a sudden stop occurs your torso goes towards the seat in front of you, head hitting first, snapping it back causing injury to the neck, at the least.
    Then we had race car style belts show up, I cant find any images of them. These were similar to the shoulder belts that started showing in the late 60's early 70's, somewhat adjustable, but rigidly secured to something, the top of the back of the seat for example. Problem here is the same thing as those old cars... Your body does not move, just your head and neck. The shoulder belts were normally tossed over the back of the seat...
    Being out of the school bus world for a while, and just looking into the seat belt issue just now, I see that they now have retractable belts in seats.

    Here is a crash test with lap and shoulder belts, unbelted occupants, sitting correctly and a bunch in seats like you find on most buses. As you can see, the two occupants wearing the retractable belts fared fairly well. In the seat in front of them are two occupants not wearing belts, but sitting correctly in the seat. They fared fairly well, kept contain in the compartment. The rest of the occupants not restrained get tossed all over the place. Interestingly, the little kids wearing the belts, are sitting on some booster thing, not a booster seat, but something...

    The new retractable seat belts take away the adjustability issues

    As this ABC story starts out... "Lap belts do not improve passenger safety on school buses and instead can put riders at high risk of severe or fatal neck injury, according to a new report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration."
    But ends with costs..

    I get long winded and go off in tangents... Lucky you, both of us, I don't like typing ha ha ha

    1. well, you made a better post of it than I did!