Ohio law requires seatbelt use in all vehicles, for all passengers, to prevent personal injuries resulting from car accidents, and are used in all motor vehicles except school buses. Many school-aged children ride buses twice a day for over 200 days a year, yet they are not required to use this most basic safety precaution. “Every time a bus stops short, kids get smashed against the seat,” states the president of the National Coalition for School Bus Safety, Dr. Alan Ross.
According to a 2006 study by the medical journal Pediatrics, as reported by the Sentinel-Tribune, more than 17,000 students are injured in school bus accidents each year in the United States. That is why more and more parents are advocating for seatbelt installation on school buses. Parents across the country are forming groups to lobby school boards to make seatbelts a requirement for all new school buses purchased, or to install them in buses already being used. At roughly $7,000-$9,000 per bus, the cost to install new belted seats is more than many school boards think they can handle. In reality, the cost is only about $1.50 per child per year, or less than a penny a day, according to the National Coalition for School Bus Safety. School officials are worried about having to purchase more buses, since the seatbelts would drop the bus capacity from three students per seat down to two students per seat. A California education spokesperson pointed out that most school buses are only 60% full, as reported by the Cincinnati Enquirer. The extra cost of seatbelts and the few extra buses needed to accommodate smaller capacities are a minor price to pay compared the preventable personal injury of a child.
Since Ohio is not one of the five states mandating seatbelt use, chances are your child does not have a seatbelt to wear on their school bus. Talk to your kids about the importance of school bus safety. Standing at a safe distance from the road while waiting outside for the bus, staying seated at all times during the ride, and following the driver’s instructions and rules, are ways to make the trip to and from school injury-free.
For more information on this subject matter, please refer to the section on Car and Motorcycle Accidents.