School bus official says seat belts are not needed for child safety

Recent school bus crashes across the country aren't convincing Lamers Busing Company's Safety Manager Becky Knaack that seat belts are necessarily better for riders.

Knaack supports the Wisconsin Department of Transportation's stance on seat belts:

Neither Wisconsin nor the federal government requires seat belts on school buses. In deciding not to require seat belts, the built-in safety features of school buses have been taken into consideration:

  • School buses are designed to take a great deal of impact, not to crush in event of roll over, and to cushion children with compartmentalization between the seats in event of crash or fast stopping.
  • Seat belts are largely intended to prevent ejection from a vehicle. Typically, only children standing in the aisle or the bus driver are at high risk of being ejected from a school bus.

The National Safety Council notes that riding a bus to school is safer than riding in the family vehicle but disagrees with Wisconsin DOT arguing that riders need lap or shoulder belts.

The United States Department of Transportation's data finds that on average 40 percent of school buses are in fatal crashes from 2006 to 2016.

But Knaack says the safety belts could cause more issues, like trapping the child by jamming during an emergency.

"In a serious crash, it would be more of a hindrance to get the children off the bus," said Knaack. 

Knaack notes it would be hard for drivers to make sure the children are wearing or keeping the belt on. 

Click here for more information about seat belts on school buses.

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