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Do you think children should wear seat belts on school buses?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on May 10, 2005

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Photo of Dylan Stang

“If they could find a way to assure that the children don’t use them as weapons, then I think they should.”

Photo of Rachael Patrick

“Yes, I think so. We had to wear them when I was in elementary school, and I thought it was stupid, but now I think it’s a good idea.”

Photo of J.R. Daniels

“Yes. It’s definitely a safety issue. No matter what it costs, they need to put them in all the school buses, especially for the grade school kids.”

Photo of Brandi Evans

“Yes. It’s obviously a safety concern, especially for the elementary school kids, because they have a problem with getting up and moving around.”

Comments

jonas 8 years, 11 months ago

Bwahahaha. Got one!!!

God it's late. And I just finished my paper that's due tomoroow, er. . . today, at 8:30.

I rule!

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The_Original_Bob 8 years, 11 months ago

sadtaco1 - Come around more often. Jonas is a bright dude who likes to instigate benign discussions. Please stick around though.

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sadtaco1 8 years, 11 months ago

In response to this litter by jonas:

"I think it's fairly obvious that the only reason there aren't seat belts on busses already is because our learning institutions have been co-opted by liberals who want nothing more than to kill every un-aborted child to celebrate their culture of death. The sooner we get them all out of office, the sooner we can start protecting our children."

I love how people on this forum hijack normal discussions with this ignorant banter. Jonas, you are stupid white America.

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one_more_bob 8 years, 11 months ago

All that being said, I'm sure Katie is a wonderful person & that her husband, kids & housepets all love her. She is also a very amusing source of diversion when she is doing "WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!" forecasts.

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sunflower_sue 8 years, 11 months ago

I guess Katie forgot to take her own advice: "When in the rain...wear a raincoat!"

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The_Original_Bob 8 years, 11 months ago

Sweet.

And you know what? She's getting it. She's been consistently pregnant for the past 3 years.

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one_more_bob 8 years, 11 months ago

Slighty naughty message ahead. Use your own judgement.

For the past few winters around the office where I worked anytime the weather looked bad, somebody would say: "Katie is expecting eight inches north of the river".

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The_Original_Bob 8 years, 11 months ago

Snow. Oh lord. I swear that the weathmen in this area have contracts with the salt and snow shovel industry.

Sunny_sue - Busby is the best at least in as far as not sounding like the rapture is nigh everytime a thunderstorm comes by. Calm voice. Rational thoughts. Dig him also.

Last summer, Katie Horner instructed people in my area (S. KC) to go into our basements and put on our bicycle helmets. I was agast and that usually isn't easy to do. No wonder older adults are terrified nowadays. They've only lived through 60-70-80 years of inclement weather and now all of the sudden everything is a potential life-ender.

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sunflower_sue 8 years, 11 months ago

OMB, That is a Hoot! Still laughing. Maybe this summer our weather forcasters will tell us of the oncoming hurricane and we will all run to the grocery store!:)
TOB, I can't stand Katie Horner either! I'd rather watch Busby. He doesn't seem to SPAZ OUT like KH does.

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one_more_bob 8 years, 11 months ago

The KC stations aren't alone in going crazy over minor news. Years ago, I lived in Dallas, TX & any time the weather folks on TV could use the word "snow" in a forecast they'd scare the dickens out of everybody. Thousands of viewers would go streaking off to the grocery stores to buy canned goods & TP. Then any snowflakes you actually saw would melt once they hit the ground.

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Carmenilla 8 years, 11 months ago

Glad I'm not the only one who finds the nightly news so distasteful. T_O_B, you are right about the stations trying to out-tabloid eachother. Pretty soon they'll have those rapidly moving banners at the bottom of the screen proclaiming: Death, war, famine, AIDS! on a nonstop loop. And than they'll move the "Terror Warning" up to orangish-red and we'll have to cower in our storm shelter and basements with stockpiles of guns, food, and water. Ohmigod, I just turned into a militia mom!

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The_Original_Bob 8 years, 11 months ago

Times have a changed when other newstations are out- tabloiding the local Fox affiliates. That is who they are emulating. Remember when it was impossible to watch Fox 4 News and now Channel 5 has just completely gone over the top? Everyday I see the good things in the community and they are not newsworthy. So, I've pretty much quit watching the news except for a little weather and don't get me started on how Katie Horner and Gary Lezak sensationalize every single thunderstorm as if it was a life-threatening event. My lord, if you see lighting, just go inside, everyone knows that. You do not need to interupt any programming to remind me of this. Thunderstorms are no worse now than they were before TV.

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sunflower_sue 8 years, 11 months ago

Larryville, you are right about 9 (and ALL the stations) that do too many sordid news stories. I guess I singled out 5 'cause of the story they did a few months ago about buying straight nitrogen from a local fertilizer dealer. The whole story was embellished and I believe the station did get their hands slapped for Dave Helling's illusions (maybe he smokes meth). LJW's companion paper "The Mirror" (Tonganoxie) ran a couple of articles on the story outing it as baloney.

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Hong_Kong_Phooey 8 years, 11 months ago

Seat belts? Yes.

What I'd really like to talk about it the people that want to ban certain breeds of dogs. My opinion is that it is usually the people that have either criminal records or a macho streak that want to have the pit bulls and such. That being said, dogs are DOGS!! They are not people who can't stand upright! DOGS BITE!! I love how a dog bite's someone and people say "the dog went crazy!"...uh, no, the dog was being a dog!

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Cayenne 8 years, 11 months ago

My question is....

If our children aren't required to wear seat belts on buses to and from schools, on field trips, sporting events, etc., why do we get ticketed and fined $25 in Kansas for not wearing our seat belts in our own private vehicles, and how is it a state law to "buckle up" in Missouri, where this horrible event with a busload of children took place?

Just a thought.

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Ceallach 8 years, 11 months ago

T_O_B: Thanks for pointing me in the right direction for my answer.

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larryville 8 years, 11 months ago

sunflower sue, redneck gal...let's not forget Channel 9 news either!! Every night they start off their 10 pm news with gun battles, gang violence, shooting sprees, and anything else that involves guns! Then they'll do a story about some sexual predator who got himself arrested for some sick, disgusting thing he did to some child. Then there's a story or two about a woman (or women) being sexually abused/violated in some way by some drifter guy, and the victim is either a female college student or some female jogger....and then, as God as my witness, and I don't know what it is about Channel 9, but almost every night they do a story (anywhere from 15 seconds to a whole minute) about some......."naked guy"!! Who is "naked guy" you ask?! Well, let's put it this way, naked guy is (usually) some middle-aged guy found by police passed out drunk on his front lawn---naked! Naked guy is a man caught driving around KC in his car---naked! Naked guy is some guy flashing women in a park, wearing only a raincoat! underneath that raincoat....he's naked! Naked guy is some guy who walks out into his back yard and waves to his female neighbors, holding a beer can in one hand, and a garden hose in the other hand and unfortunately for the female neighbors, this "nice, friendly, neighborly guy is.....yes! that's right! you guessed it!....he's naked!!--Now "naked guy" isn't the same guy in each case, it's actually a different guy in each case, but I mean Channel 9 does sooo many naked guy stories that they might just as well have.....news, weather, sports, and an official "naked guy segement"--each and every night of the week!!!

Honestly, I don't know what it is about Channel 9, but whoever the news producer is at that station, he or she is seriously obsessed with stories involving "all-things-naked".

I find it hard to believe that with all of the death, chaos, and mayhem that's going on in the world right now, that TV stations like Channel 9--with their limited news time--has a news story each and every night of the week about child sex perverts, men sexually assaulting women, shootings in KC, and then, of course, "naked guy" stories. Seriously, if any of you people out there doubt me, then just watch the Channel 9 10 pm news (with Larry Moore and Lara Moritz) for one whole week. I swear to you, that by the end of that week, you'll agree with me when I say that all 5 nights were carbon copies of each other!!! The exact same "sensationalized/tabloid news stories" over and over again!! It's incredible!! And it's pathetic too!

Most nights I just sit there and shake my head. As a matter of fact, just before Channel 9's 10 pm news comes on, I find myself sitting there wondering...."So, I wonder who tonight's naked guy will be?? Will it be some 50 year old man in KCK riding his bike--naked--down some residential street--at 9 am in the morning?!"

If you want a good laugh.....just watch the 10 pm news!!!

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Fangorn 8 years, 11 months ago

New York state has mandated the use of seat belts in school busses for several years now. Perhaps we could look into their experience before making a decision. Or rather than make it a statewide mandate, allow districts to make their own choices and then study the outcomes. If we do choose to go with the seat belts, I could meet remember_username halfway on this. Spreading out the cost seems like a good idea. But I would like to see some data on the benefit we receive versus the cost imposed and how those costs affect other areas.

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The_Original_Bob 8 years, 11 months ago

"I may have missed it, but did anyone address the percentage of accidents that were bus driver error? Seems to me that is often the case, but maybe those are just the incidents that the news media deems worth of airing." ceallach

Bus accidents = extremely rare (look at the post by quelly50). Rarer than just driving in a regular car.

Bus accidents at fault of bus driver = nearly nonexistent.

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Ceallach 8 years, 11 months ago

Sorry, got a little click happy!

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Ceallach 8 years, 11 months ago

Luckily, I only had one year (junior high) of riding a school bus. On our bus, it seemed to me the boys suffered much more from bullies than did the girls. From Dylan Stang's remark, he may have been the victim of a bully/bullies.

I may have missed it, but did anyone address the percentage of accidents that were bus driver error? Seems to me that is often the case, but maybe those are just the incidents that the news media deems worth of airing.

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Ceallach 8 years, 11 months ago

Luckily, I only had one year (junior high) of riding a school bus. On our bus, it seemed to me the boys suffered much more from bullies than did the girls. From Dylan Stang's remark, he may have been the victim of a bully/bullies.

I may have missed it, but did anyone address the percentage of accidents that were bus driver error? Seems to me that is often the case, but maybe those are just the incidents that the news media deems worth of airing.

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enochville 8 years, 11 months ago

Perhaps we could restore order to our classrooms in much the same way by issuing fines when and if detention does not work. That would get the attention of the parents.

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enochville 8 years, 11 months ago

I think there should be chaparones assigned to problematic routes, who have the authority to assign detention or call the police if the situation warrants it. To hold costs down, not all bus routes would get chaparones, only those that need them. Perhaps we could fine the parents of misbehaving children to offset costs as well.

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enochville 8 years, 11 months ago

As many of you mentioned, there are children that behave poorly on the bus and at bus stops. I first saw pre-teens smoking pot as I waited for the school bus at my neighborhood stop when I was in middle school. Some kids that I did not know used to terrorize me at school while I was waiting for my bus after school. I couldn't tell on those kids because I did not know who they were. If I ran into a teacher's classroom, they would hide until I left my refuge.

Now that I am an adult, I am often appalled at the reaction from some parents if a teacher or principal confronts them about their child's behavior. They often defend the child and attack the teacher. I wish all of our community would respect teachers and discipline their kids when they get out of line so that victims of bullying and harassment would be safer.

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sunflower_sue 8 years, 11 months ago

I have to agree w/ redneckgal about the news giving ideas to people. I can't even watch KCTV 5's TABLOID NEWS anymore. What a joke of a station they are! I won't let my kids watch the news because I want them to sleep at night.

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remember_username 8 years, 11 months ago

The real problem with these issues is that those making the decision need to determine the human cost of an action versus the financial cost of the action. If there are 550K school buses out there the cost of refitting those old buses may be as high as a half a billion dollars. If any of those killed 5 children killed could have been saved by seat belts would it have been worth the cost? What about injuries or trauma - do we have numbers on those? Does mitigating those injuries attenuate the cost of seat belts any more?

I agree that a half a billion dollars could be spent more wisely and in such a way to save more than the lives of even five children. However, I would suggest a compromise (as a good moderate should) that all new buses are equipped with seat belts and thus the expense of preventing injury and death could be amortized over several years. Each year would provide an increasing statistical degree of safety until all buses are so equipped. Does that sound like a bad idea?

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Redneckgal 8 years, 11 months ago

Carmenilla..I couldn't agree more. I finally had to turn the news off last night. It was just gut wrenching. Channel 4 had the same thing over and over.. As for the sicko creeps out there sometimes I think they get more and worse ideas just from watching the news.

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kansas 8 years, 11 months ago

Okay, so the article said that there's something like 550,000 school buses in this country. There are millions of kids being transported to and from school each and every day. And last year, 20 kids were killed in accidents involving a school bus. 15 were either hit or run over by a bus and 5 died while sitting on a bus during an accident. I think that school buses are very safe when it comes to traffic accidents, because statistically, 5 deaths out of millions and millions of riders is pretty impressive if you stop and think about it for a moment! I guess some people have an unrealistic expectation that no kids should die in bus mishaps!! None! Zero! Zip! Zilch! Nada!

You know, in that Missouri accident those two poor souls who died were traveling in cars---not on the school bus!!

I think that this seatbelt thing is much ado about nothing, in my mind.

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one_more_bob 8 years, 11 months ago

The news: if it bleeds, it leads.

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Carmenilla 8 years, 11 months ago

I'm torn on this one because I can see both angles. Like sunflower_sue, I abhor those parents who make no attempt to buckle their child up. It takes less than a minute, people! I can't tell you how many times I've seen toddlers STANDING between the front seats of a car. It gives me chills everytime! But on a bus its different, I suppose. I remember taking the bus for field trips and it always felt safe. Clunky and bouncy but relatively safe. I'd hate to see small children trapped on a bus because of seat belts but everything has dangers, if you think about it enough. And as much as I care about children getting hurt, I am sick to death of the continual tabloid news that only talks about bus crashes, child murders, "rampant" pedophiles, etc. I feel that we are living in a state of self-induced fear and paranoia. What parent doesn't want to keep their child safe? They (the media) are playing into our biggest fears. When I look outside my window the world looks pretty friggin' beautiful to me. I know I always go off about this but can't we just enjoy what we've got, rather than worry it to death? Or maybe its just Spring and I feel hopeful...

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remember_username 8 years, 11 months ago

M_J - search the web for the video "Bus Crash" (a internal monitoring video of the Florida school bus crash). The bus held up well, the children hit pretty hard.

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Mister_Joe 8 years, 11 months ago

Sorry! I meant to say...........but I did get a "kick" out of his answer, nevertheless.

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Mister_Joe 8 years, 11 months ago

I think the reason why there has never been seat belts on school buses is because it is almost impossible for the bus driver to know for sure if every kid is wearing his or her seatbelt at any given moment while the bus is in motion. Also, like neopolss said, in a bad accident---what's the bus driver supposed to do? The bus driver is supposed to go around unbuckling 30 seatbelts?! 40 seatbelts?!---Bus drivers have enough to worry about! Besides, in a rollover crash, buses seem to hold up pretty good---unlike a whoooole lot of SUV's!! And like O_B pointed out....how often do you hear about "horrific" school bus crashes, anyway?? In the last ten years, the only horrific bus crash I remember hearing about was that bus that was parked on a railroad track somewhere in Illinois and it was rammed by a train. And in a case like that, wearing seatbelts wouldn't matter because trains are much, much bigger than school buses!

BTW, I love Dylan Stang's answer! I don't agree with him about buses needing seatbelts, but I did get out of his answer, nevertheless!

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qeely50 8 years, 11 months ago

http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/injury/buses/pub/seatbelt.hmp.html

Information on school bus safety statistics and why seatbelts are not installed on buses

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The_Original_Bob 8 years, 11 months ago

Jonas - There you go!!! I knew you had it in you today. You almost went over the top and into Lulu-land but whatever. I can't wait for someone to take the bait.

Sunflower-sue - Don't get me wrong. There are bad bus drivers just as there are bad attorneys, cooks, teachers, nurses, etc... I had a crazy old bus driver as a kid that I didn't like. But, when I look back on the countless hours of riding the bus from age 5 - 18 (to school, field trips, numberous athletic and debate events) I never once felt unsafe. Obviously, you need to be a better parent and control your naughty children!:)

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jonas 8 years, 11 months ago

sadtaco1: Don't underestimate a kid's ability to find a projectile or bludgeoning use for the most innane item that you could think of.

Fangorn: See, told you! >}B-)> And yes, my mom hated the drive home. But she changed her schedule around so she goes to work and comes home an hour or two before the california rush. . . period? (hour is an understatement).

We were driving back from Mexico the last time I went out there to visit, and the line we were in at the border shut down, so we got stalled out. By the time we got across it was Friday rush period, and it took us 3 hours to go the 30-40 miles up the highway. Then I came back and listened to people whine about rush hour traffic here (pushing for the SLT) and laughed in their faces. . . metaphorically speaking.

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remember_username 8 years, 11 months ago

jonas - who in the heck are you channeling?

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sunflower_sue 8 years, 11 months ago

TOB, Yeah, I didn't want to make it a driver issue, but that's exactly why my kids are no longer on the bus. Our driver apparently felt that one of my "naughty" children were getting off of the bus at too leisurely a pace so she pumped the brakes to make her fall down in the aisle. This (and several other bus driver issues) was brought to the school bus supervisor and nothing was done. Now don't get me wrong, there are many WONDERFUL drivers out there. We just didn't end up with one.

There is also a driver still driving that was driving my hubby to elementary school...and she was old then. Should there be an age limit for school bus drivers?

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jonas 8 years, 11 months ago

I think it's fairly obvious that the only reason there aren't seat belts on busses already is because our learning institutions have been co-opted by liberals who want nothing more than to kill every un-aborted child to celebrate their culture of death. The sooner we get them all out of office, the sooner we can start protecting our children.

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sadtaco1 8 years, 11 months ago

seatbelts as weapons? that was a joke, right?

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tell_it_like_it_is 8 years, 11 months ago

I drive my kids myself. I don't put them on the bus unless there is just no other way like field trips and then my wife or I try to go and drive ourselves if we can.

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The_Original_Bob 8 years, 11 months ago

Hey, hey, let's not go off on the drivers. How often do you hear about school bus accidents? Very rarely. How often is it acutally they bus driver's fault? Almost never. Except for this case apparently but it's no reason to throw all bus drivers under the bus. Jeez.

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Redneckgal 8 years, 11 months ago

Bingo Topside. We had a bus driver in our town who drove the bus one school year and (I s**t you not )by the start of the next school year she was declared legally blind. Pretty scary. And thats only been about 6 years ago.

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Topside 8 years, 11 months ago

i think the real issue, in my hometown, is not with the buses but the people who drive them. I think if we didn't have retirees or people making minimum wage driving them you could save a lot of incidents right there. In my town hardly anyone rides the bus anymore anyway because of budget cuts.

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sunflower_sue 8 years, 11 months ago

NOT sorry to bag on the parents out there who do not put their kids in childseats and safety belts. Kids who get into a car and do not automatically start looking for the seatbelt have weak or lazy parents (not to mention ones that are breaking the law). If you are one of these parents, shame on you for allowing yourself to be railroaded by a 3 year old! Maybe these parents want their child to love them or just to be quiet. WEAK,WEAK,WEAK DUMB parents!!!! Believe me, a dead child will not love you but they will be quiet...forever!!!!! I have bus issues in general so I'm glad to drive my kids the 6 miles to school....wearing seatbelts!

Yes, I realize that I grew up not knowing what those seatbelts were for. But I don't buy the arguement: "I never wore one and I was just fine". I also don't buy the crap arguement: "The paramedic said if I'd been wearing my seatbelt I would have died". To those of you that are going to respond to me that you lost a loved one because they were wearing their seatbelt: First, let me say I'm sorry for your loss. Second, who can say they would have survived had they not been buckled in?

I still can't believe there aren't seatbelts on a school bus. The driver gets a belt. His he/she more valuable? Oh, yeah, it would cost MONEY. Well, of course, how silly of me!

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one_more_bob 8 years, 11 months ago

The keys are moving around on me today. I meant "seatbelts", not "seatblets". As you were, smoke 'em if you got 'em.

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one_more_bob 8 years, 11 months ago

IIRC, there were studies done back in the 80's showing that seatblets in school buses didn't greatly contribute to passenger safety. Amazingly enough, I also recall those studies were funded by the school bus makers. Imagine that! While we're talking about safety, can we get folks to quit reenacting their favorite scenes from "Fast & Furious" on the public streets?

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Adam 8 years, 11 months ago

Studies have shown time and time again that seatbelts save lives. I think if kids can handle the 13 knobs and buttons on a playstation controller with surgeon-like accuracy, the one big button on a seatbelt shouldn't be that hard for them to handle. I say strap em' in! Particularly considering the crazies we've got driving the busses these days!

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remember_username 8 years, 11 months ago

I don't have any statistics on seat belts and buses. But there is plenty of statistics on seat belts and saving lives in automobiles. I have volunteered in the EMS services and have received considerable training to be able to serve effectively. Every paramedic I have worked with has admonished those who do not wear seat belts. In aircraft during turbulence seat belts have protected people from injuries. So what if it costs a little more to put the seat belts on buses. Yes, the kids will fuss and there will be a period of struggle but soon the next batch will be used to it and the struggle will be less.

If any of you parents are interested I can describe exactly how EMS responds and the steps that are taken on the scene of such a mass casualty incident. After I finish I can almost guarantee you'll agree with all the paramedics, EMTs, and First Responders that the law exempting school buses from having seat belts is a stupid law.

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The_Original_Bob 8 years, 11 months ago

Yes, I think kids should wear seat belts. Failing that, school bus drivers shouldn't drive 60 mph through busy intersections.

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Redneckgal 8 years, 11 months ago

I think its a good idea however then I worry what would happen in the event of a fire. Some of the smaller kids might not be able to get them undone. You would hope the older kids would help them I guess. I don't know sometime its like damn if you do and damn if you don't.

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Fangorn 8 years, 11 months ago

If we can't even get kids to stay in their seats, how are we going to compel them to wear seat belts? The driver has enough to worry about negotiating traffic in those unwieldy vehicles. You could hire an additional person to act as a monitor (i.e. "babysitter"), but again how do you make the kids comply? Bar them from the bus for a few days if they don't? Oh, listen to the parents howl! Suggestions, anyone?

I know yesterday's crashes (there was also one in Florida) make spectacular and tragic news, but what is the incident per passenger-mile rate for school busses? My assumption is that it's relatively low. (Again, that is an assumption. If anyone has or can find hard data, please share it.) And even without seat belts for the passengers, busses have many safety features in their design. Consider that the two fatalities in the Missouri crash were both in other vehicles. I realize that two children have life-threatening injuries, but as bad as the accident was they survived it.

Mr. Daniels represents a popular mode of thinking that is horribly flawed and rather dangerous. "No matter what it costs", he declares. But seat belts and monitors or surveillance systems (or whatever else is required to ensure use of the belts) cost money. Those resources have to be reallocated from somewhere else, which means they are not available for other purposes. Consider these possibilities. Lacking funds, the city delays infrastructure improvements, resulting in accidents which could cost lives. Due to the tax increase to pay for safer busses, a family decides to keep their older car rather than purchasing a newer one with more safety features, increasing their risk since collisions in smaller vehicles are much more likely to be fatal. Or this same family opts to drive to Disneyland to save on airfare but faces much greater risk versus airline fatalities per passenger-mile. When limited resources are redistributed, there are always trade-offs. There is no something-for-nothing free lunch. "No matter what it costs" often has unintended consequences. But few people bother to look deeper than one spectacular, nationally-televised accident.

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neopolss 8 years, 11 months ago

Seatbelts could really becomes a safety issue in itself. In the case of a rollover or fire, children may panic and forget that they are still strapped in, and there may not be a concious bus driver to help younger children unlatch themselves. There's an awful lot of young children on one bus, I would much rather risk some bumped heads than imagine a few children still trapped in a burning bus.

I would much prefer to know the statistical data and the arguments before committing to either opinion first though.

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Jayhawk226 8 years, 11 months ago

I would have to really be persuaded by how this could be bad for anybody.

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GreenEyedBlues 8 years, 11 months ago

When I was a young lad, the engine didn't start until my parents knew that all passengers were buckled up and ready to rock.

These damn rugmonkeys run all over buses nowadays! I'm surprised we don't hear more about school transportation-related injuries.

On the other hand, the cheesewagon has always been something of a romper room. I think a more pressing concern should be kids distracting the bus driver. At least for public schools, it's another instance of state-funded babysitting.

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