A school bus tracking system keeps you in the loop as the child is in transit. While it is your best shot to know the whereabouts of the children, the solution can’t alone guarantee you their safety.
Security of the child aboard a bus depends a lot on other factors like driving pattern, whether the vehicle is maintained properly, the condition of the road as well as if any safety mechanisms are present on board.
One among them and probably the most popular is the seat belts. But how many school buses have you seen which have seat belts incorporated within them? Why do most buses shy away from the buckle?
At the onset, the question of whether or not to have a seat belt on the bus seems absurd. Given that belts are a lifesaver and compulsory in cars, shouldn’t the same logic be applied to school buses?
However, this isn’t so simple as the matter and the argument runs deeper. There are people on both sides of the debate, arguing for the buckle on the bus and against it as well.
Let’s look at both the sides
Why don’t most school buses have seat belts?
After large trucks, local buses, and taxis, school buses are the most frequently used mode of transportation on the road. Despite this, many buses do not have a proper seat belt aboard.
Their reasons differ.
While few believe that buses are structurally built in a different manner – large in size and in bright colors can help in avoiding accidents, others tend to assume that in case of a collision the impact will be different from that of a passenger car and hence will cause no damage to the children.
School buses are usually compartmentalized and are designed in a way to reduce the impact of any collision.
There are also few who belong to a school of thought that kids tend to be hyperactive while on the bus. With multiple kids of their age, many believe that seat belts can be a hindrance to the children when they are in a playful mood.
Schools run on a fixed budget and most of them consider seat belts an unnecessary expenditure. Many argue that there is no adequate data that substantiates the argument that children can be saved from an accident because of seat belts.
Many also tend to assume that the drivers are well-trained. Parents are under the assumption that in order to avoid any liability in case of an accident, schools will ensure that best driving practices are maintained.
Those against the use of seat belts in school buses mention it as a hazard. As per them, misbehaved kids can use them as weapons to hit other students.
The biggest problem the critics say is that the seat belts act as a hindrance during evacuation. In emergency situations, children are usually frightened and cannot unfasten themselves.
In case a fire breaks out or the bus needs to be urgently evacuated in case of flash floods or earthquakes, it is very difficult to go and unbuckle each student and bring them to safety on time.
Why should you insist on getting a school bus seat belt?
According to a survey by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), while more than 42,000 people are killed on an average in traffic crashes in the US every year, six school-aged children die in bus accidents as passengers.
While there is no specific reason that one can pin down behind these deaths, seat belts may have saved a few lives. While this is a survey from the US, it can hold true for other countries as well.
Here are a few reasons why both parents and schools should insist on having a seat belt function onboard a bus.
What can be more essential than keeping your child/ward safe and secure? Just like car seat buckles are important for children while they travel with parents, school seat belts can help them guard themselves in case of an accident
It also ensures that the child remains unhurt in case of a sudden turn or surprise break. Seat buckles keep the students seated in their designated chairs and can help in reducing the number of injuries on board.
In case of an accident, the harness helps the kids from either hitting against the front seat or rolling over to the next one or in some cases flying out from the windows.
Wearing a seat belt also prevents them from ejecting out of the bus during a severe accident that involves a rollover.
2. Making an injury claim
In case of a mishap, most of us turn towards insurance claims — health insurance, vehicle insurance among others. In some cases, the fact that those involved in the accident did not apply any safeguard mechanisms like wearing a seat belt, can be a deciding factor in how much money is being offered in settlement.
Seat belts can also help schools in settling court litigations. The presence of the belts indicates that schools had tried to take measures to reduce impact in case of any disaster. This can work in favor of the school in case parents sue them for negligence.
3.Imparting good, safe behavior
Given the long commute these days, children tend to spend a lot of time aboard the bus. Hence, safety begins here.
Children on board the bus need to be taught safe travel practices. They should be made aware of traffic rules and should adhere to it.
Inculcating the practice of wearing a seat belt on the bus, makes the child informed about safe driving practices. There are chances that he might insist his parents or relatives also to wear one while traveling them.
Also, it is the schools’ duty to teach children on how to deal with any emergency or evacuation. Hold drills, teach them how to unfasten belts and get to safety in time.
4. Keeps the children seated, helps to maintain discipline on the bus
For most of us, bus rides are one of the fondest memories of our school time. This is because as children we got to spend a fun time with our peers without the pressure of an assignment or a teacher overlooking.
Hence, children on board can be tricky to handle. They want to jump around, talk to their friends and play around. Not only can this be dangerous — given that the vehicle is in motion, but can also be distracting for the driver.
Belts fasten the children to their seats and help the driver to better concentrate on driving.
Given the costs of installing seat belts on each bus and knowing both the pros and cons of having them, it is for the school management to decide whether they want to give it a shot.
In case you do decide to have them, also invest in a good-quality school bus GPS tracking system that will send you an alert as soon as the ward boards the bus and buckles the seat belt.
The software not only assures you of the child’s safety but also keeps you posted about his/her behavior on-board the bus.
And don’t worry about the investment, here. After all, safety doesn’t come with a price tag. Does it?