How School Buses Protect Children Without Safety Belts

When you send your child off to school on the school bus, the last thing you expect is to get a phone call telling you that your child has been in a bus accident. That is what the parents of the children on the school bus that crashed on February 9, 2016 experienced.

Fortunately, while one of the children was injured and transported to a hospital, there were no fatalities on the bus. The student’s injuries were reportedly only as minor. Sadly, one of the passengers inside the car that collided with the bus died. A Cumberland County coroner arrived at the scene of the crash at around 12:45 p.m. to pronounce the passenger of the car dead.

The parents most likely have the National Highway Safety Association to thank for saving the lives of their children. Here is why:

School Bus Accident Prevention

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), 23.5 million children are transported by 450,000 public school buses each year. Out of those 23.5 million children, an average of about six children die in school bus crashes every year. Compare that to the 42,000 people who lose their lives in vehicle collisions in the U.S. annually, which makes school buses approximately seven times safer to ride in than passenger vehicles and small trucks.

What is the Difference?

For many years, the lack of seat belts on school buses issue has been brought up countless times. Why do school buses not have seat belts? According to the NHTSA, due to the weight of buses, they distribute crash forces differently than passenger vehicles. This changes the crash forces that bus occupants experience as opposed to passenger vehicle occupants.

How NHTSA Decided to Provide Crash Protection in Buses

With this information in mind, the NHTSA decided that smaller buses that weighed under 10,000 pounds needed to be equipped with safety belts. This included either lap or lap and shoulder belts. The reason for this was that the crash forces of these smaller buses are similar to passenger vehicles and small trucks.

Why Do Larger Buses Not Need Safety Belts?

The NHTSA decided that the best way to protect passengers on larger buses weighing more than 10,000 pounds was to use a concept called “compartmentalization.” This required buses to be designed with strong seats that are spaced close together and made with backs that are energy-absorbing. This design provides a protective envelope for the children who are riding on the school bus. Passenger crash protection on school buses works by compartmentalization, as opposed to safety belts, which is why children do not have to buckle up today.

Even with this ingenious interior design on school buses, approximately six children per year die in school bus accidents, and many become injured. If your child has been injured or lost his or her life in a Pennsylvania school bus accident, you should contact a Pennsylvania bus accident attorney today to discuss your legal options.  

(image courtesy of Wladyslaw)