By: Christie Baldwin/Junior Writer
Many states, such as California, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, and Texas, require seat belts on buses. Did you notice that Pennsylvania wasn’t one of the states listed? This doesn’t really make any sense knowing, “every year, hundreds of thousands of school buses transport more than 25 million children to and from school,” according to the American School Bus Council (https://www.ncsl.org).
“Students are about 70 times more likely to get to school safely when taking a bus instead of traveling by car,” according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (https://www.nhtsa.gov.)
When many people are traveling in cars, there is more of a chance of an accident of some sort. However, when there are lap-shoulder seat belts on buses that are involved in an accident, the passengers are more secure on the bus than if they were in a car.
“Smaller school buses- weighing 10,000 pounds or less- are required to have lap-shoulder belts under federal motor vehicle safety standards” (https://www.nytimes.com). If shorter buses that have fewer students are required to have lap-shoulder seat belts, then shouldn’t longer buses transport a greater number of students also required to have lap-shoulder seat belts?
If there were lap-shoulder seat belts on buses there could be a decrease in deaths due to accidents with school transportation nationwide. “Between four and six school-age children die each year on school transportation vehicles, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which estimates that there were 37,150 traffic fatalities nationwide last year” (https://www.nytimes.com). There could be a lesser amount of cars that could come or leave the school during the day; if there were less parents bringing or picking up their children from school everyday.
School buses are known to travel about 5.7 billion miles yearly. If children are on the bus for all those miles there is bound to be an accident so lap-shoulder seat belts should be enforced.
Gregory Deck Blue Ridge’s SRO Officer, believes that seat belts would be worth a shot if it went from around 4-6 kids dying in school transportation accidents to a lesser amount, even though he wishes that there were none at all. Deck mentioned that there have been no fatalities around our area that he can recall. However, he stated that buses are built above car height so that if there was an accident, the impact wouldn’t be as powerful. Deck claims he read somewhere that seat belts run around $2 a seat belt. However, he believes that if we had seat belts on buses they could be a hazard. For instance if the bus were upside down, then the seat belts may not release and could cause even more deaths which is something nobody wants to happen.