In last Sunday’s edition of the Independent Record, we published a story on the issue of whether seat belts should be required in school buses.
There were plenty of opinions on both sides of the issue — you can see the story, and the comments, posted online at helenair.com.
Meanwhile, we asked readers their opinions in our Question of the Week: “Should seat belts be required for students’ seats on school buses?”
Of the roughly 160 responses we received, 100 or 63 percent, were “yes.” The remaining 60 responses — 37 percent — were “no.”
Here are some of the comments we received.
- Ten years ago I owned stock in a company that had invented a lap bar for school buses. I thought is was a great idea, and I bought 100,000 shares. (OK, it was a sub-penny stock.) Needless to say, they went out of business and I lost my money. No state wanted seat belts for their school buses.
The reasoning is pretty basic. The phrase used is “compartmental containment.” Most deaths in accidents used to be caused from passengers being ejected from the vehicle in a wreck. So states enacted seat belt laws for privately owned passenger vehicles.
Buses are a completely different animal. In crashes, the bus is generally the bigger vehicle so it will move the opposing vehicle, moving through the crash and slowing to a stop far less quickly than the impacted other vehicle.
Second, buses are big inside. Windows for school buses are small, heavily fortified and to the side — not to the front. Therefore, in crashes, kids aren’t being thrown out windows and they usually stay within the confines of the vehicle even in rollovers — hence the so-called “vehicle containment.”
Further, in the event of a crash, seat belts could become a real trap, particularly for younger children. So, I say no to seat belts in buses. The costs really aren’t justified.
However, it does come to mind that if belted, rowdiness might be reduced, to say nothing of fights and brawls.
- Yes! In the event of a serious collision, seat belts could save the lives of many of our children, grandchildren, nephews and nieces, and kids we don’t even know. The only logical objection would be the money that it would cost to retrofit our current fleet of buses. Yet we live in a self-proclaimed God-fearing nation that mindlessly continues to spend billions and billions of dollars — needlessly and tragically — on the war in Iraq, causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, including many children. What are our true values? Clearly, we need a change in thinking.
- It’s long past due. “Only one child is very precious.” Airliner, car and truck makers figured it out a long time ago. Kids are used to buckling up.
- Not having seat belts on buses is a real cop out! The lobby against it must be really strong. It’s all because of costs. But how much is the life of a child worth? The first thing that needs to happen, is to change the ridiculous law that the buses can’t be retrofitted. I hope somebody will sponsor that bill as soon as possible! That would save tons of money. As a parent who has chaperoned trips on buses, I was never comfortable sitting in the front seat. There was nothing to keep a person in the front seat from flying in the event of a fast stop. The front seats of charter buses should have those added immediately. The rest of all buses should be retrofitted shortly thereafter.
Eventually, all new buses need side air bags and seat belts. With modern technology, there should be a feature in which the driver could push a button to release all of the seat belts if the need arises. The seat belts could be more like a bar, like in carnival rides. Let’s get going! Our children and grandchildren’s lives are at stake!