The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and school bus manufacturers have been complicit in duping school districts, states and parents about school bus safety for years. School buses will not protect our children in a serious accident because buses are not crashworthy and fail to utilize available and affordable occupant protection safety systems. The biggest safety issue is the failure of NHTSA to establish consistent safety standards for buses. As a result, when it comes to protecting occupants.
The crash of an elementary school bus in Chattanooga, Tennessee that caused death and traumatic injuries on November 21, 2016 underscores the urgent need to require some of the occupant protection systems that are taken for granted on family cars. The horrific scene inside the bus at the time of the accident likely resembled this actual crash footage of another rollover school bus crash.
While the accident investigation focuses on whether the driver caused the accident, the inquiry should also focus on what caused the injuries. I have repeatedly called on school bus manufacturers and school districts to at a minimum install seat belts in school buses, (three point restraint systems of lap and shoulder belts).
Crash tests conducted by IMMI, the manufacturer of SafeGuard seats, dramatically demonstrates the catastrophic impact with and without lap-shoulder belts. IMMI also debunks numerous safety myths perpetuated by school bus manufacturers.
The United States school bus system is among the largest mass transportation systems in the world. Yet most American school buses do not contain the following safety equipment:
- Seat belts,
- Window glass that can reduce the risk of a child being ejected,
- Inadequate structural integrity to provide protection in frontal, side and rollover accident.
- Fire protection
Sadly, vehicle crashworthiness principles have not been applied to school buses as vigorously as they have to aircraft, race cars or passenger cars and trucks. Why you ask? For years, school bus safety has been compromised due to under-reported injury and fatality statistics, manipulation of test data and frivolous claims about the safety of school buses.
School bus manufacturers are self-proclaimed experts on bus safety. As such they should also be held responsible for traumatic injuries and deaths to children on school buses just as auto manufacturers are held accountable for occupant protection in passenger vehicles.
Parents, school administrators and elected officials should demand school bus crashworthiness. Otherwise our most precious cargo will continue to die in vain.
Want to learn more about how to protect your children on school buses? Read and Share my report School Bus Safety In America.