Jump on any school bus and you’ll notice that the only seat belt visible, is for the driver. Why don’t school buses have seat belts for the students?
At the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicle website, you’ll see that there is an answer to “Why no seat belts?”. School buses don’t have seat belts because of “compartmentalization”. That is the name that has been given to the system that relies on seat height, seat length and all the padding surrounding the seat. The website compares this system to an egg carton that protects an egg.
In 1967, researchers came up with the concept of compartmentalization. Today, only 5 states require some form of seat belt on a school bus. (New York, New Jersey, Florida, California and currently being implemented- Texas)
For the past 25 years, schools and parents have relied on that 1967 research; even though the research only included the study of frontal impacts. Such research led to the recommendation of compartmentalization. Unfortunately, only 1/3 of bus crashes involve frontal impact. Other crashes including rollovers and side impacts are being ignored.
In 2002, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) did crash experiments to confirm the continuance of this system, so as not to require seat belts.
NHTSA placed seven instrumented dummies on a school bus and did a test crash of a 25,000 lb. cab-over truck into the side of a school bus. Not much was known from the test except the following and resulting recommendation to Congress.
In this test crash between bus and truck; of the 7 dummies, only 2 were considered Side Impact Dummies. Only those 2 dummies had instruments to measure lateral chest and pelvic forces. Even more curious was the fact that they were placed adjacent to the impact area, so that they were not actually thrown across the bus by crash forces.
True testing would have been expected to include one or more of the dummies to be belted, to compare forces versus the other non-belted dummies. The final report from this agency failed to describe the path of motion or the points of impact. So, where and how was not known.
Blog space won’t permit me to recite more. It’s already too long. But, the 2002 report that was delivered to Congress, pointed out that if school districts are federally mandated to require seat belts and restraints on school buses; then there would be a tremendous cost and an expected 17% loss of rider capacity.
One final report. In 1999, a separate agency, (National Transportation Safety Board) issued a completely different finding regarding school bus crash-worthiness and seat belts:
Current compartmentalization is incomplete in that it does not protect school bus passengers during lateral impacts with vehicles of large mass and in rollovers, because in such accidents, passengers do not always remain completely within the seating compartment.
I think that you’ll be surprised by some of the articles, statistics and excuses regarding seat belts on school buses, if you google that topic. We mandate flashing lights; other traffic stopping, for school bus stops; and, extended “stop bars”. We even have stop signs for ice cream trucks; but, we don’t mandate seat belts for kids on buses.
Now, pic o’ day to illustrate something else that doesn’t make sense.