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School Bus Safety
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When was the decision made not to use seat belts in school buses?
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School buses are the safest form of surface transportation as far as the numbers of deaths and injuries show, although some recent research has begun to question some of the statistics on injuries. However, there are school bus seats that now have built-in shoulder lap belts, and in the state of California all new school buses that are purchased or leased now have to have a shoulder and lap belt. This is a good thing because not only does it hold the child in place in some dangerous situtations, but again it provides a separate section for each child on the school bus. We know that behavior on school buses isn't always the best, and we also know that if children are used to being buckled up on every trip and suddenly they're on a vehicle where they're not buckled up, many of them don't really know what to do.
Back in 1977, the decision was made not to use belts on buses but to use what's called compartmentalisation. That means putting the school bus seats close together. The idea was the child would sit on the seat and be thrown into a padded seat back. However, the way that children sit on school buses is that they often sit up on their legs. They turn around to talk to the child behind. They lie down. They sit on top of one another. They get up and walk around. They do many things on the bus that a dummy wouldn't do. So, although we still feel that the school bus with compartmentalisation is a very safe way to travel, we want people to think about the fact that we are using the technology and ideas from 1977, and it is now the 21st century and we have the designs. There are school bus seats that have built in safety seats. There are school bus seats that have shoulder lap belts, and there are buses for 25 children or less that at least have lap belts so you can use a product that can be held in with a lap belt.
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