Several states have been looking into mandating three-point seat belts on school buses as a measure to keep kids safe. There is fierce debate on the issue, with some (including national transportation agencies) arguing that three-point seat belts don’t help much or, in some situations, may actually be less safe.
On April 11, a bus carrying 41 students in Macon was struck from behind by a vehicle. The accident injured five students, two of whom were hospitalized and three of whom were taken by their parents to receive medical care. The driver in the incident was also hospitalized, but thankfully, there were no fatalities.
Would seat belts have prevented child injuries in this bus accident?
Seat Belts and School Buses: What the NHTSA Has to Say
Only six states mandate school bus seat belts – New York, California, Florida, New Jersey, Louisiana and Texas. The American Academy of Pediatrics has long been an advocate of requiring new buses to have seat belts. The National Safety Council echoes that belief. But the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that the cost of installing seat belts vastly outweighs the perceived safety benefits. Only four children die per year in school bus accidents. While ideally that number would be zero, seat belts generally would not have prevented those four deaths, the agency says.
Furthermore, seat belts could expose children to other dangers. Young children may become immobilized by seat belts during crashes involving rollovers or fires.
What do you think? Are seat belts worth the cost, or are we better off using that money to find other ways to keep children safe on school buses?