There is no question that seatbelts save lives. In a crash, restraints keep people from being ejected from the vehicle, dramatically increasing the chances of survival. And while school buses have seatbelts in many states, there is a limited requirement for buses or vans that transport adults.
There are arguments for and against installing seatbelts on more buses and transport vans. Some say that the cost of retrofitting vehicles with restraints would be prohibitive, while others argue that the safety benefits would far outweigh the cost. Still, others point out that many adults simply choose not to wear seatbelts, even when they are available, so the effectiveness is limited.
At the end of the day, the decision of whether to install seatbelts on more buses and vans is a complex one. There are pros and cons to both sides of the argument, and ultimately it is up to each transportation company to decide what is best for their existing vehicles.
Statistics on General Seat Belt Use
Over the period 1975 to 2017, 374, 276 injuries and fatalities were avoided due to seatbelt use. Wearing lap and shoulder belts resulted in the following reduction of injuries:
- Critical or moderate injuries were reduced by 50 percent for passenger front seat occupants
- Front seat passenger auto occupants had a reduction of 45 percent of fatalities
- Light truck front seat occupants had a 60-percent reduction in fatalities
- Light truck front seat passengers had a 65-percent reduction in serious injuries
What Are the Arguments Against Installing Seatbelts on Buses?
- Cost: One of the biggest arguments against installing seatbelts on buses is the cost. Seatbelts are not cheap and placing them in an entire existing fleet of buses would be a significant expense for most companies.
- Limited effectiveness: Many people argue that seatbelts would not be very effective in preventing injuries or fatalities in a bus crash. Buses are much larger and heavier than passenger cars, making them less likely to be involved in high-speed accidents. And even if a bus was involved in a severe accident, the impact would likely be spread out over a larger area, making it less probable that seatbelts would make a difference.
- Inconvenience: Another common objection to installing seatbelts on buses is that they would be inconvenient for passengers. Getting on and off a bus can be challenging enough without fumbling with a seatbelt, and many people would simply choose not to wear one.
- Distraction: Some opponents of seatbelt installation also argue that having seatbelts on a bus could be distracting for passengers. If people are constantly fidgeting with their seatbelts or trying to get comfortable, it could take away from the overall experience of riding the bus.
- Added maintenance expense: Buses are already costly to maintain, and adding seatbelts would only add to that cost. Not only would the initial installation be expensive, but there would also be ongoing costs associated with maintaining the seatbelts and ensuring they are in good working order.
Arguments for Using Seatbelts on School Buses
Proponents of seatbelt usage on school buses believe they will help with:
- Safety: This is the most obvious argument for using seatbelts on school buses. Seatbelts effectively reduce injuries and fatalities in car accidents, and there is no reason to believe they wouldn’t be just as valuable on school buses. In fact, given the size and weight of buses, seatbelts could potentially be even more effective on buses than on cars.
- Cost-effectiveness: Although there is an initial cost associated with installing seatbelts on school buses, it is likely to be offset by the savings in medical, legal cases, and other expenses such as insurance that would result from fewer injuries and fatalities. In other words, over time, using seatbelts on buses would save money.
- Set a good example: Buses are often used to transport school children, and as such, they can serve as an essential tool for teaching safety. If buses are equipped with seatbelts, it will send a strong message to children that seatbelts are important and should always be used when traveling.
- It’s the law: In some countries, it is already legally required to install seatbelts on buses. In the United States, for example, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has mandated that all new buses be equipped with seatbelts. As more and more countries pass similar laws, the cost of seatbelts will come down, making them more affordable for bus operators.
- Save lives: Most importantly, installing seatbelts on school buses can save lives. In a crash, seatbelts could keep children from being thrown from the vehicle or around the inside of the bus, reducing the risk of severe injury or death. A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that installing seatbelts on large buses could save 45 percent of injuries in the United States alone.
There are many good reasons to install seatbelts on buses and transport vans. Seatbelts can save lives, improve safety and provide more comfort for passengers. They also offer some financial benefits for bus companies.