For concerned parents and proponents of seatbelt use on school buses, today’s school bus accident in Gwinnett County sparks a renewed debate of the hot button issue. Last October, a Douglas County student was killed in a local school bus accident, so today’s incident once again brings up the age-old question…
Why aren’t there seatbelts on school buses?
Three school buses were involved in this morning’s school bus accident in Gwinnett County and students are recovering from sore necks and backs. Paramedics treated all students at the scene and the driver of one school bus was sent to the Gwinnett Medical Center.
“The crash took place at the intersection of Rockbridge Road and Rockbridge Way, where two buses were stopped while one loaded children,” Cpl. Edwin Ritter of the Gwinnett County Police Department told the AJC. He added that a third bus, en route to Camp Creek Elementary School, approached and rear-ended the second bus.
Thankfully, none of the students’ injuries were serious. Ten of the 38 students on the third bus complained of pain, but luckily none required further medical treatment. The driver of the third school bus will be cited for following too closely.
“Seatbelts on school buses” has been a hot button issue for years. The National Coalition for School Bus Safety is one of the nation’s biggest proponents of seatbelts on school buses. It claims that the basic design of the school bus has not been changed since 1977. Families of accident victims, informed parents, National PTA, and multiple physician groups are demanding improvements and seatbelts on school buses. However, school officials across the country continue to claim that school buses are safe without seatbelts.
Below are some of the arguments for seatbelts on school buses, as posted on the National Coalition for School Bus Safety website:
- Opponents of seatbelts on school buses say they are harmful to small children. If this is true, then why is there a child restraint law in every state? Seatbelts are on school buses have been endorsed by the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, American College of Preventative Medicine, Physicians for Automotive Safety, and Center for Auto Safety.
- Opponents claim that seatbelts on school buses are not cost effective and that school districts should weigh costs vs. their school systems safety record. Yet they ignore the fact that seatbelts would cost most districts about $1.50 a child per year or less than a penny a day for this added protection. Even districts with proper driver screening and the best safety records, cannot predict the performance of the “other driver”.
- Opponents state that “compartmentalization” (protection between high-back padded seats) provides sufficient protection, yet they ignore the effects of rear-end, lateral and rollover collisions. During a crash, children become human missiles as they are thrown from their seats, into one another or into aisles, blocking quick evacuation.
- Opponents suggest that seatbelts are more trouble then they’re worth and that children won’t wear them. Wearing seatbelts twice a day, 180 days a year will make wearing seatbelts a routine and not an ordeal. Over 200 school districts across the nation have adopted seatbelts as an added safety feature and report usage rates from 80% to 100%. Districts must encourage, if not demand their usage and support must come from parents, administrators and school bus drivers.
If you’d like to read more from the National Coalition of School Bus Safety, follow this link to its website.
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