The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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September 27, 2011

Ask a trooper: Why not seatbelts in school buses?

If we are so keen on seatbelts why don’t we put them in school buses?

 

Full size school buses are the safest form of transportation for our children:  Children are 8 tiems more likely to be in a crash when riding in vehicles other than the school bus. 

Full size school buses are big, heavy and designed to take the brunt of a crash. The chassis separates from the body of the bus to slow and disperse the crash forces and minimizes the possibility of rolling – which is extremely dangerous and violent!  

Again, a school bus is big, orange and we know our children are on board and we seem to alert to this well, reacting with our best driving behavior. 

A full size school bus uses Compartmentalization.This system uses seats which are strong, high, energy absorbing and closely spaced to keep our children safer during a crash, liken it to an egg carton. 

For Compartmentalization to work the children need to be sitting on their rears, upright - back to seat and forward facing.  Three persons in a seat is only allowed if all three rears are completely on the seat, again, facing forward with no parts hanging out into the aisle. 

There are some very credible areas of concern regarding lap and shoulder belts installed in full sized school buses: Could it reduce the safety already inherent in our full size school buses, who would get all the kids in and buckled properly, how would the lap and shoulder belts be maintained and, if a belt system was used, maintained correctly, is it safer than Compartmentalization

 

Statistically it is safer for them to be on a full size school bus than in their family vehicle.  

 

Remind your bus driver not to pull away until all children have sat down and to make sure exiting children have cleared the bus before pulling away.

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