Hartford Bus Crash Demonstrates Need for Safety Belts on School Buses
The recent bus crash in Hartford that resulted in the tragic death of a student serves as an unfortunate reminder that the time has come for school bus companies to equip their buses with safety belts.
A 2006 study that appeared in the journal Pediatrics revealed that school bus-related accidents send 17,000 U.S. children to emergency rooms each year, more than double the number in previous estimates that only included crashes. Nearly one-fourth of the accidents occur when children are boarding or leaving school buses, while crashes account for 42 percent, the new research shows.
Slips and falls on buses, getting jostled when buses stop or turn suddenly, and injuries from roughhousing are among other ways kids get hurt on school buses, the data found.
Injuries range from cuts and sprains to broken bones, but most are not life-threatening and don’t require hospitalization. And while the numbers are higher than previously reported, they represent a small fraction of the 23.5 million children who travel on school buses nationwide each year, the researchers said.
The researchers said the results provide a strong argument for requiring safety belts on school buses, something industry groups say is unnecessary and is more than many school districts can afford.
Safety belts, particularly lap-shoulder belts “could not only prevent injuries related to crashes,” they could also keep kids seated “so they’re not falling out of their seats when buses make normal turns or brake,” said lead author Jennifer McGeehan, a researcher at Columbus Children’s Hospital’s Center for Injury Research and Policy in Columbus, Ohio.
“Our study shows that there needs to be continued vigilance on school bus safety,” McGeehan said.