My first reaction to last week's school bus crash on I-64 was:
Why aren't seat belts required on school buses like they are in cars?
But it turns out that may not be such an easy call to make.
First, school buses are already significantly safer than cars – about 40 times safer, according to the National Safety Council. That's largely because they're much heavier and their passengers sit much higher than those in automobiles, reducing their risk in a collision.
But there's more. Since school-age children simply can't be counted upon to use seat belts properly, school buses are built to provide much more passive protection than regular cars. Their seats are relatively closer together and covered with a four-inch layer of foam, which provides a sort of protective bubble in a crash. And lap and shoulder belts – even in cars – aren't recommended for smaller children anyway, who really need to be in car seats.
And finally, there's the cost issue. It's estimated that installing seat belts would add eight to fifteen thousand dollars to the cost of every new bus, while having little to no impact on safety.
I find it interesting that something that at first seems so intuitively simple can, after further investigation, turn out to be not so simple.
But give us a call and tell us what you think about seat belts on school buses.
I'm Bill Lamb, and that's my…Point of View.