Seat belts belong on buses

Published 10:24 pm Friday, October 17, 2008

Currently, Alabama is undergoing a pilot study on using seat belts to increase school bus safety. And, as it turns out with many other pilot studies, this one has hit a couple of potholes.

For example, bus drivers have said the higher seat backs make it harder for them to see children and some of the seats have blocked camera views to ensure children use the seat belts. Additionally, some cameras were poorly mounted, meaning the bus driver couldn’t monitor children.

The point of this study is to determine how much students will use the seat belts and how they’ll behave on buses that have them.

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Researchers watching the pilot study have assured those concerned that these are issues they can work out. After all, that’s the point of a pilot study: To determine what will and what will not work and return to the drawing board for improvements.

This study, which costs $1.4 million, comes at an interesting time. The U.S. Department of Transportation has announced lap and shoulder belts as mandatory on smaller buses weighing 5 tons or less.

While the Transportation Department hasn’t ordered seat belts on larger buses, all the vehicles will have to raise seat backs to 24 inches from the minimum of 20 inches to keep children from being tossed over seats in the event of a collision.

Students should wear their belts. They should wear them on buses and in the cars or other vehicles they ride in when not on a bus. This is common sense.

Getting adjusted to the belt buses? That’s just another part of discipline on the part of the students and the bus drivers.