A+ School Bus Safety Tips
By Paige Frazer, MD
The wheels on our nation’s school buses go ’round and ’round … carrying 23.5 million children more than three billion miles a year. Considering those numbers, school buses have an admirable safety record. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, students are nearly eight times safer riding in a school bus than with their own families in cars. However, school bus accidents resulted in an average of 10 deaths per year.
By consistently following good safety rules, students can lessen their chance of injury on the school bus. Children should avoid any behavior on the bus that could distract the driver. But the most important thing for children to remember while riding the bus is to stay in their seats − because those seats are designed to protect them in a crash. Heavily padded, high-backed and placed close together, school bus seats create what safety experts call protective “compartments” for children. If a bus collides with another object, the theory goes, children will hit either the back of the seat they’re sitting on or the back of the seat in front of them. Children who aren’t in their seats at the time of a crash won’t have this protection.
In Virginia, large school buses don’t have lap/shoulder seat belts. Some studies by the NTSB indicate that seat belts actually increase the risk of certain injuries during school bus accidents. But other organizations, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, recommend that all new school buses be equipped with lap/shoulder seat belts that can also accommodate car safety seats, booster seats and harness systems. Until that happens in Virginia, the best safety measure is staying in your seat.
Dr. Frazer practices with CHKD Health System’s Pediatric Specialists.