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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

sunflower_sue 9 years, 7 months ago

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

Ceallach 9 years, 7 months ago

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

sunflower_sue 9 years, 7 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.

Carmenilla 9 years, 7 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!

sadtaco1 9 years, 7 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.

sunflower_sue 9 years, 7 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.

GreenEyedBlues 9 years, 7 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.

Jayhawk226 9 years, 7 months ago

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

neopolss 9 years, 7 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.

Fangorn 9 years, 7 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.

Redneckgal 9 years, 7 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.

remember_username 9 years, 7 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.

Adam 9 years, 7 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!

jonas 9 years, 7 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!

sunflower_sue 9 years, 7 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!

Topside 9 years, 7 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.

Redneckgal 9 years, 7 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.

tell_it_like_it_is 9 years, 7 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.

sadtaco1 9 years, 7 months ago

seatbelts as weapons? that was a joke, right?

jonas 9 years, 7 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.

sunflower_sue 9 years, 7 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?

remember_username 9 years, 7 months ago

jonas - who in the heck are you channeling?

jonas 9 years, 7 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.

qeely50 9 years, 7 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

remember_username 9 years, 7 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.

Carmenilla 9 years, 7 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...

kansas 9 years, 7 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.

Redneckgal 9 years, 7 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.

remember_username 9 years, 7 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?

sunflower_sue 9 years, 7 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.

enochville 9 years, 7 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.

enochville 9 years, 7 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.

enochville 9 years, 7 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.

Ceallach 9 years, 7 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.

Ceallach 9 years, 7 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.

Fangorn 9 years, 7 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.

Cayenne 9 years, 7 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.

Hong_Kong_Phooey 9 years, 7 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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