I loathed taking the school bus as a kid. I would try anything to convince my parents to drive me. I quickly learned that the best tactic was to remind them that the school bus didn’t have seat belts. “What if there’s an accident,” I would moan.
Little did I know that beneath my shameless pleas, I was actually raising an interesting point. Cars, pickups, and SUVs have seat belts. School buses, on the other hand, are notorious for not having them. Few people know why.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a government agency, explains on their website that school buses use a different safety technique to protect riders called “compartmentalization,” a “protective envelope consisting of strong, closely-spaced seats that have energy-absorbing seat backs.”
That description should sound familiar to anyone who has done time on the school bus. Those high-backed green seats with less legroom than even the stingiest airline apparently serve a purpose — to protect kids. The NHTSA goes on to explain that because buses are heavier, “the crash forces experienced by occupants of buses are much less than that experienced by occupants of passenger cars, light trucks or vans.”
Despite the NHTSA’s findings, there are those who feel school buses should still have seat belts. The National Coalition for School Bus Safety argues that compartmentalization doesn’t protect riders against “rear-end, lateral and rollover collisions.”
What do you guys think about school bus safety? Does compartmentalization strike you as being the way to go, or should all school buses have seat belts? Keep in mind, that according to the NHTSA, studies have proven that seat belts would add “little, if any” added protection. Thoughts? Sound off below.
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