Ohio School Bus Accident Injuries: Would Requiring Seat Belts Reduce Injuries?
Ohio School Bus Accident Injuries Are Unfortunate, But Can The Number And Degree Of Injury Be Reduced By Using Seatbelts In Ohio School Buses?
Ohio school busses, as well as many busses in the nation are not equipped with safety belts. Some parents and lawmakers have questioned the safety aspects of allowing children to travel two and from school without safety harnesses. Current regulations only require that school busses be equipped with seatbelts if they are under 10,000 pounds. Just 6 states require the use of seat belts in school busses, and Ohio is not one of them.
ABC reporters watched as a seat belt company tested crash dummies inside a school bus traveling at 30 miles per hour and during a rollover crash. Some dummies were belted, and others were not. During the test, the dummies that were belted remained in their seats, while the dummies that were unbelted flew out of their seats. ABC News reports that the use of a lap shoulder belt can reduce injuries and fatalities by 50 percent in any vehicle, including school busses. [http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/gma-investigates-putting-seatbelts-school-buses-save-kids-28603493, February 2015]
Ohio school bus injuries occur frequently. In December 2014, a Columbus accident involving a school bus and a passenger vehicle resulted in four injuries and one fatality when the school bus swerved during impact and struck two pedestrians by the side of the road.
Dayton 2 News found that Dayton public school busses are involved in accidents three or more times a month. Between 2012 and 2013, Dayton Ohio school bus accidents increased by three times. State wide, in 2013, there were 271 Ohio school bus injuries and 2 school bus-related fatalities in Ohio. No research has been done to determine if seat belts could have prevented any of these injuries. [http://wdtn.com/investigative-story/school-bus-safety-the-dangerous-road/, February 2015] [http://www.publicsafety.ohio.gov/links/2013CrashFacts.pdf, February 2014] [http://www.nbc4i.com/story/27613914/emergency-crews-respond-to-school-bus-crash-in-downtown-columbus, December 2014]
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration currently does require seat belts on school busses. The NHTSA states that school busses are about 7 times safer than passenger vehicles. School busses have a fatality rate of 0.2 per 100 million vehicle miles. Most cars have a fatality rate of 1.44 per 100 million vehicle miles. The NHTSA states that since school busses are larger, crash forces do not have as big of an impact as in smaller vehicles. Most school busses use “compartmentalization” technology to protect children in case of a crash through the use of energy-absorbing seats. A 2002 report from the NHTSA found that including lap belts did not provide additional protection during severe frontal impacts. [http://www.nhtsa.gov/Vehicle+Safety/Seat+Belts/Seat+Belts+on+School+Buses+–+May+2006, February 2015]
However, despite these facts, parents, lawmakers, and the manufacturers of seat belts are clamoring for additional seat belt protection. Lap and shoulder belt combos are safer than simple lap belts, and have not been tested in school busses. It is possible that adding additional safety harnesses to school busses could reduce fatalities and injuries.
Ohio school bus accidents occur frequently. Dayton 2 News found that Dayton public school busses are involved in accidents three or more times a month. Between 2012 and 2013, Dayton school bus accidents increased by three times. State wide, in 2013, there were 271 Ohio school bus injuries and 2 school bus-related fatalities in Ohio. No research has been done to determine if seat belts could have prevented any of these injuries. [http://wdtn.com/investigative-story/school-bus-safety-the-dangerous-road/, February 2015] [http://www.publicsafety.ohio.gov/links/2013CrashFacts.pdf, February 2014]
Without further research, it is impossible to identify if school busses would become safer with additional seat belt protection. Most studies from the NHTSA occurred in the 1980s, over 30 years ago. New seat belt technology could significantly alter the original study findings, indicating that seat belts should be used. More research is necessary to determine if Ohio school bus injuries and accidents could be prevented with the use of seat belts- but currently, all signs point to “yes.”
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