Safe Families

Dec 6, 2010 7:13 PM by Melissa Hawkes

Should School Buses Have Seat Belts?

After Friday's accident, many of you said school buses needed to be equipped with seat belts.
But will that really make the bus ride safer? Many officials from school bus drivers to school board members say it won't. In fact, they say it would pose as more of a safety hazard
Keith Johnson has been driving Bus 101 in Lafayette Parish for the past eight years. He says riding in a school bus is just about the safest mode of transportation.
"We are about safety in driving a school bus, there's always a need for safety when you are carrying these kids around," he said.
School officials say buses are already designed with safety in mind. They have higher seats and padding on both sides. The design is meant to contain a child if a crash was to occur. Officials say even though the child may be jolted a little bit, the padded seats will absorb most of the impact
Johnson said, "if they hit their head on the front seat, it won't hurt them at all. That's why we don't want them to sit sideways because of the glass."
Director of Transportation for Lafayette Parish, Willam Samec, said
"if there's a lap belt, then the students will actually hinge and their head will hit the seat back. The impact will be concentrated on the head which will result in a more serious injury than if there wasn't a seat belt."
Samec said the design has been the standard model since 1977 and simply adding a seat belt wouldn't make the ride safer.
He said, "they are designed to contain kids a certain way and not designed to have seat belts. For me to encourage seat belts, I'd have to see a redesign of the current bus seats."
Johnson says he sees drivers ignore his flashing red lights almost everyday on his route. He believes drivers need to pay better attention when school buses are around, so tragedies like the one in port barre don't happen again.

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