My daughter is going on a field trip with her pre-school this month, and my wife is concerned about the fact that school buses don't generally have seat belts.
Does anybody know why school buses don't always have seat belts?
What makes a school bus safe, if there aren't seat belts?
Are there any studies or research comparing the safety of school buses with or without seat belts?
asked 12 May '10, 13:53
Chris W. Rea
The National Transportation Safety Board (in the US) says
Large school buses are heavier and distribute crash forces differently than do passenger cars and light trucks. Because of these differences, the crash forces experienced by occupants of buses are much less than that experienced by occupants of passenger cars, light trucks or vans. NHTSA decided that the best way to provide crash protection to passengers of large school buses is through a concept called “compartmentalization.” This requires that the interior of large buses provide occupant protection such that children are protected without the need to buckle-up. Through compartmentalization, occupant crash protection is provided by a protective envelope consisting of strong, closely-spaced seats that have energy-absorbing seat backs.
In another article on their site, the NHTSA says that in some cases, seat belts in buses can worsen injuries. However, my interpretation of the way they stated that is that generic seat belts in school buses may not be safer but restraint devices designed with school bus seating in mind still may be beneficial. In the first article I linked to, they do say "Over the past 30 years, some States have required new large school buses to come equipped with seat belts. There have been no documented injuries or fatalities resulting from use of the seat belts on school buses."
answered 12 May '10, 14:16
From the Ontario Ministry of Transportation:
The Transport Canada article mentioned on that excerpt from the MTO site has further details, including full references.
answered 18 May '10, 02:31
Also, think about how hard it is to keep a seat belt on a small child in a car, now have one adult trying to keep seat belts on 30 kids. If the belts are not connected and an accident does occur, the belt ends could become projectiles and cause a pretty bad injury in itself.
answered 18 May '10, 17:41