In our last post we discussed a pedestrian accident which left a 29-year-old woman dead. Although the woman was hit by a police car responding to a crime, pedestrian accidents are also common in a variety of other situations such as school bus loading zones.
Safety advocates say that a seat belt requirement for school buses may prevent such loading zone accidents and save several lives every year by cutting down the distractions that school bus drivers face.
“There is accident after accident where we can document that the cause has been school bus driver distraction,” said Arthur Yeager of the school bus coalition. “More kids are killed when their own school bus drives over them than by other drivers. Some of those kids are killed because the driver is distracted by kids jumping up and down on the bus.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration disagrees with Yeager’s assessment and views seat belts as an unnecessary expense. It notes that retrofitting school buses with seat belts would be so costly that it would amount to between $23 million and $36 million per life saved.
Yeager notes that the NHTSA requires seat belts in most other vehicles despite its longstanding opposition to school bus restraints.
“There is a certain hypocrisy in their supporting seat belts in virtually every other type of vehicle under their control except for school buses,” Yeager said. He went on to state that students are used to wearing seat belts in cars and that many children’s first experience riding without a seat belt is on a school bus.