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Author: toni

~ 08/05/10

 

We live in an era of obsession with child safety. When I was a kid child safety came in the form of  a loud, resounding, “NO!” emanating from a nearby irritated adult.  It was cheap and that single word pretty much summed up everything a parent had to do/fork over in order to childproof their home.

Not so, today. Even before a baby comes into the world his surroundings have been turned into the padded cell of a maximum security mental institution.   There are latches on the windows and cabinets. Those little plastic knobs cover door handles, making them impossible to turn (sorry Grandma). Latches on the toilet seat are so difficult to break into, I’ve nearly wet myself trying. There are bumpers on the corners of coffee tables, plastic plugs fill outlets, gates are screwed in at the bottom and tops of stairs. And child car seats are made by the same manufacturers who make those lovely airplane seats we squish into during long flights – miserable to sit in, but able to withstand a 16g impact (the seat, not us). 

And there is even a whole industry that has cropped up as a result. Yes, if you are one of those super paranoid parents you can actually hire an “expert” to come in and child proof your home. It’ll cost you a bundle, but you’ll save a fortune in ER visits. Of course, you risk raising a kid so insulated and protected from reality that by the time you finally release them into the wild, they won’t know any better than to walk in front of a bus or stick a butter knife into an outlet. ZZZZT!

Anyway, with all of these precautions, with all the billions and billions spent on protecting our kids, with all the laws passed about child safety seats and helmets–

Why aren’t school buses required to have seat belts?!

There was another article today about a child getting killed during a collision while riding in a school bus  (CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL STORY).  Dozens of others were hurt. And this happens all the time! In fact, on July 17, nine kids were seriously injured in Kansas. And there was another serious accident in May. Google it, you’ll be horrified by the hits you’ll get.

I have to tell you, I am none too thrilled about my kid going on any school field trip on a school bus. Especially on a freeway! Because you know what happens to a little loose body during an impact? It turns into a projectile! That’s right. That unharnessed person turns into a free floating one that can slam right through a windshield! Why is this even legal?!

Now my kid is within an inch or two of the legal height requirement to be out of a booster.  But if I should dare to allow my kid to ride in the car without the booster (not that I would) I can be heavily fined, because this is against the law!  And yet that same 55 inch,  60 pound child is allowed to sit unsecured in a large rectangular metal box on wheels that has all the safety features of that travelling tilt-a-whirl ride that you saw featured on 60 Minutes that caused 3 kids to lose their toes.

As a parent, I’m appalled and mortified and just dumfounded by the logic, or lack thereof, when it comes to safety belts and buses. There are people (and by people I mean attorneys hired by bus companies to spin statistics) who will tell you that more children die from being HIT by a bus than in a collision while riding a bus. I say, who cares? As long as one child could be saved from death or serious injury by wearing a seat belt on a bus, why not add them? They’re in every other vehicle that moves, for gosh sakes!

Not only is the lack of logic maddening, so is the hypocricy!

It is pounded into the heads of parents and children alike that safety is of the utmost importance! And I take it seriously.

So on the weekend I am super vigilant mommy and make sure my daughter never rides her scooter without a helmet. Then on Monday morning I place her into a  pricey car seat – the fourth I’ve purchased to meet her changing size – and strap her in to take her to school. And then I’m supposed to be okay with letting her get on a school bus without seat belt, car seat or helmet so she can ride unrestrained at 60 mph down a freeway to go on a field trip?!

Sorry, but it goes against every mommy instinct in my body.

My heart goes out to the parents who lost their daughter today in the school bus accident in Missouri. It was tragic and entirely unnecessary.

There oughta be a law. Fortunately, several child safety advocates and other safety groups have started a petition.

NHTSA’s grant of safety groups’ petition would extend the lap-shoulder belt requirement to large school buses manufactured in the future. It would also provide an incentive for State and local jurisdictions to require retrofitting of existing large school buses with lap-shoulder belts so that they were as child-safe as new models.

The petition was signed by The National Coalition for School Bus Safety (NCSBS), Center for Auto Safety (CAS), Public Citizen (PC), Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS), Consumers Union (CU), KidsandCars.org, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Consumer Federation of America (CFA), SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A., the Trauma Foundation, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the Orthopaedic Trauma Association, 2safeschools.org, Safe Ride News, the Advocacy Institute for Children, Belt Up School Kids, the Coalition for Child Safety, Nancy Bauder, Lynn Brown, Norm Cherkis, Ruth Spaulding, and Rhea Vogel. A copy is available online at

http://www.autosafety.org/school-bus-seat-belt-mandate-urged-leading-safety-groups-0

 

You know and I know, it’s going to take an army of angry mommies to get this changed. So find out what you can do in your area to make seat belts mandatory on school buses.

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1 COMMENT »

  1. As a parent, I can understand your concerns; as a school bus driver, I can share a few things for which the average parent may spend many hours seeking.

    In some states, seat belts are required in school buses, but I know of no law that requires the passenger usage of seat belts. (Too hard to enforce, one driver, 60+ passengers.) There have been studies regarding seat belts. The results are mixed, related to seat belts’ effectiveness. Some study results suggest that in some accidents, seat belts create an additional appendage (that did not exist without seat belts), that can cause other internal injuries, instead of unrestrained collision with the cushioned seating surrounding the student.

    Other safety-related items of note regarding school buses are its construction (there have been stories of students and drivers surviving rollover accidents, with minimal serious injury), and the fact that passengers in a school bus are safer in a crash than others because they ride above what is called the crash line (the level or plane that corresponds to the impact point in an accident).

    One last thing to remember about the whole ball of wax that is schools and buses is the fact that schools have to operate on budgets, and likewise, school bus companies or providers. That ‘happy medium’ balancing act of safety vs. taxes is always the 800# gorilla in the room. Mandating additional equipment always causes the next question, “Who’s going to pay for that?”

    Hope it helps.

    Comment by Ralph Jefferson — January 22, 2011 @ 7:51 am

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