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Would seatbelts on school buses reduce injuries in a crash?

For most Massachusetts parents, school buses are relied on during the school year to get their children to and from school safely. These large yellow vehicles allow for a large amount of students to be timely transported between their home and school every school day; however, many question the capabilities of a school bus keep children passengers safe.

When traveling in other vehicles, students are required to wear seatbelts or even sit in specific safety seats. But when traveling on a school bus, students are not required to wear seatbelts. This is not because this rule is not enforced on school buses, but rather because seatbelts are not available on most school buses. This situation causes many to question the overall safety of a school bus and if a seatbelt could help student passengers avoid injuries in the event of a school bus accident.

Would seatbelts on school buses reduce injuries in a crash? According to the National Highway Safety Administration, school buses today are required to meet certain safety requirements. These include improved emergency exits, roof structures, seating and fuels systems and bus body joint integrity. The NHTSA states that school bus safety is one of its highest priority and further claim that school buses are one of the safest forms of transportation in the U.S.

However, when considering the weight of a bus and force distribution during a crash, the force experienced by a school bus passenger in an accident compared to a passenger vehicle passenger is greatly different. In fact, buses have been designed in the best way possible to protect its passengers from serious injuries. Therefore, experts say seatbelts would only generate unnecessary hassles, such as frequently stopping to help students buckle up or enforce students to follow the rules.

Although school buses are deemed safe vehicles, this does not mean passengers cannot be harmed in the event of a serious bus crash. If a negligent driver or bus driver causes a school bus accident, those harmed could hold the negligent party accountable for any injuries and damages suffered.

Source: Nhtsa.gov, "Seat Belts on School Buses," accessed Oct. 9, 2016

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