When you send your child off to school, you naturally assume that he or she will be safe on the journey. However, many parents have concerns about seat belts on school buses and whether kids should be obligated to use them at all times. The New York Times offers more insight into this controversial topic.
While there has been a push for seat belts in all school buses in recent years, only a handful of states have laws in place making this essential safety feature mandatory. California is just one state, along with New York, Florida, Texas, Nevada, Arkansas, New Jersey, and Louisiana. In some cases, buses are exempt if funding is not available to cover the conversion to new buses or the installation of seat belts. Even if a bus does feature seat belts, most states don't require kids to wear them at all times.
On their own, larger school buses are considered to be far safer than other vehicles when involved in an accident. Children are shielded from the impact in most cases, which is why seat belts are not always mandatory on larger buses. It is recommended that smaller buses designed for transporting fewer kids are outfitted with this safety feature. This is because smaller buses offer less protection, which means children are more vulnerable during an accident. For example, buses weighing under 10,000 pounds are required to have seat belts according to federal law.
Lap-shoulder belts are usually preferred since they offer a greater level of protection in a crash. Many older buses have lap belts only, which are considered less effective when compared to newer belts. Many officials are pushing for updated vehicles with a modern style of belts regardless of size. While there are few fatalities linked to school bus accidents each year, seat belts provide peace of mind to parents.