Monday, August 6, 2007

School Bus Safety

Gadabout is curious about school bus safety and the fact that most school buses are not equipped with seat belts. I was surprised that there is so much debate on the issue. Just Google “seatbelts school bus” and you’ll see what I am talking about.

The advocates for maintaining the status quo state that “compartmentalization” of seat design keeps a child safe. They might get tossed around a bit in a crash, but they will not be killed. They also cite additional costs for installing seat belts, a low death rate (11 deaths per year), child non-compliance with using seatbelts, and general safety of heavy vehicles such as school buses when involved in an accident.

Advocates for change cite that while the number of deaths is low, the number of injuries is high. They dismiss the assumption that children will not comply with seatbelt usage since they have been brought up in a culture of using seatbelts in automobiles. Additionally, they note that compartmentalization does not provide safety for rollovers and side impact collisions.

Gadabout sizes up the argument as a cost issue. School buses serve a diverse customer base; from little people in kindergarten to high school seniors, and the same fleet services all. If seatbelts were mandated, then it would be difficult to dispatch the fleet to serve multiple requirements. This might lead to a requirement to acquire more buses and drivers. As it stands now, you can easily pack the little kiddies like sardines into the yellow can and nobody whispers a word.

It’s always about the money. Follow the money to find answers in life. Money is a powerful force. Life in America is a delicate balance between public safety and the almighty dollar.

What do you think?


Lee said...

I saw a bumper sticker once that said "Wouldn't it be nice if the schools had all the money they needed for our children, and the Navy had to have a bake sale to buy a battleship?" Sums it up pretty well; higher tax rates won't be approved for seat belts, but they can force another billion or two for wars!

Anonymous said...

I think the bus in the tragic bridge collapse did well considering the life and death situation lives were placed in. Least we forget the plunge too. Can we conclusively draw any real factual opinions on this one?

I love to see the manufacture stats. How does it compare to a Greyhound bus? I think Virginia Beach should pave the way, they after all were going to shuffle tourist in "super" buses?

People die buckled up too, but I feel the real issue is the redesign of the bus. Some things never change and this "beast of burden" they present certainly has not. Perhaps they need to give each kid griper claws for the seats in case of emergency!

Liv Olsen

Gadabout Jack said...

Liv, you go girl!