Overheard on CNN.com: Safety belts on school buses? After wreck, readers debate
Readers are debating whether safety belts would be worthwhile for school buses after reading about a fatal wreck.
March 12th, 2012
04:07 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Safety belts on school buses? After wreck, readers debate

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

A school bus wreck killed a young child and the driver Monday in Indianapolis, officials said. Readers commenting on the story debated whether additional safety measures are required.

School bus wreck kills child and driver in Indianapolis

We saw differing views on the need for safety belts on buses. One commenter who said she is a bus driver was in support of them.

SitSandraSit: "As a driver, I see kids jumping around on school buses all the time as it is moving. At times I wish I could do something about it, but there isn't much I can do. It's can be difficult to control just one child, let alone 20. I think there should be cameras and restrictions like seat belts. Maybe a computer on the bus to indicate all kids are strapped in."

However, this reader wasn't so sure.

Planethell12: "Even when I was riding a school bus back in the late '80s and early '90s, our bus had seat belts, and we were forced to wear them when the bus driver would walk up and down the aisle before we departed to make sure of this. However the moment  he sat down was the moment we took ours off. One adult for 50 or so kids (especially when the adult is supposed to be driving and not watching the kids) does not cut it."

One reader said children's small size presents special challenges.

David Lochhead: "It is very hard to protect a small child in a collision without the all-encompassing approach. Airbags can deploy with enough force to completely decapitate a small child, so curtain protection would be ruled out. Hard side-rail restraints would be ruled out as most school bus collisions are lateral impacts. This is why in a family car all restraints are adjusted to the individual passenger or my key does not go in the ignition. My little girl decided that undoing her belt when she was 5 would be much more comfortable, and as I have an installed aftermarket buzzer on it, the car stopped , she was rebelted and we went straight home which was about 50 miles in the opposite direction. It never happened again. Most school buses carry many different sizes of children so this will be a really tough problem that will not be solved by a one-size-fits-all approach nor by a greedy politician that just wants the next electoral win."

There were also some who opined that seat belts could increase risk.

bassman21: "Kids should be on spring break this week, not in school. Anther thing about having seat belts of school buses is this. If the bus catches fire, especially upside down, it will be very difficult to get 50 children off the burning bus. Most studies show that kids are safer without seat belts. No matter what you do, there will always been some deaths from auto accidents. Overall kids are much safer on them than in a car."

Some said they were deeply saddened.

IxNay: "I hope there was some kind of health problem, rather than reckless driving. From the perspective of the parents who lost their child, it will be much easier to stomach an accident because of a heart attack rather than stupid driving. It is always sad to hear about something like this. We send our kids to school, expecting them to be safe. It makes you realize how unpredictable and precarious life is."

What do you think about this story? Do you think there should be seat belts on school buses? Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or sound off on video via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. OrgaNized liFe of A diSorGanizEd MoTher

    Reblogged this on OrGaniZed liFe of A DisoRganiZed MoTher and commented:
    I think school buses should have safety belts for the kids. Why don't they? During the normal school week, children are more likely to ride the school bus more hours than any other vehicle. In my area (which is rural), kids could be on the bus for 30-45 minutes one way. They need seatbelts. Especially for in the winter, when the accident rates are increased. Are we waiting for a massive, horrible accident to start this? Let's just be proactive when our kids' lives are on the line. I guess my final statement would be–why not? I just don't see what seatbelts would hurt–it could only help save lives. What are your thoughts??

    March 12, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  2. bobcat (in a hat) ©

    With the number of accidents involving school busses lately, I would say seat belts are a very good idea. They've been talking about it for years, when are they going to start putting those words into action.

    March 12, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  3. BOMBO ©

    I was on a bus accident once as a kid. Flying through the air, smashing several seat backs along the way, landing on random debris, is still one of my most vivid childhood memories. A couple of kids were hurt, the driver of the other car was killed.

    It's all about the money. The school districts, the private carriers, nobody wants to fork out the cash. I'm surprised this is such a universal problem, rather than just being isolated to a few cheap districts.

    March 12, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  4. BUSDRIVER

    A lot of people see seat belts as a tool to keep the kids in their seats. As a bus driver I can tell you that 70% of the kids behavior on the bus is influenced by the driver, If you have a driver that just doesn't care kids will be bouncing all over the place, but if you have a driver who can control the kids they'll behave for the whole bus ride, and that has nothing to do with yelling at screaming at them, most of the time if there's a problem you can just pull over someplace safe and they'll realize they're not getting home. As far as seat belts in an accident, I'm firmly against seatbelts on my bus, my capacity is 77. If the bus ever got in an accident the main fear isn't broken bones its fire. Busses go up like matches, less then 2 minutes and a full size bus will be completely consumed by fire. So now you tell me if kids are stuck in their seatbelts in a panic which 77 do I save? One driver and one seatbelt cutter isn't going to save them all in that time frame, The seats are so large and padded now that kids are safer without seatbelts, I'd rather drag little Suzie or little Johnny out of the bus with a broken leg then watch them burn.

    March 12, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Janice Jeffey

      I'm a school bus driver with 29 years expirence I can't imagine the students that would use the buckles of the seat belts to hit other students, the bus windows, and who is going to make sure they are buckled and stay buckled untill time to get off the bus. Also if the bus has a stop on a busy street and the child can't get out of the seat who is going to go unbuckle the child. The bus driver by law in Alabama can't get out of the bus seat unless the bus is turned off and locked down can you imagine the time it would take and how long you would have to try to control traffic. It would make for and even unsafer situation with the driver out of their seat and not controling the bus.

      March 13, 2012 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
  5. saywhat

    @ BUSDRIVER

    You have a point there. And I respect your concern and approach to this issue. Wish you safe driving.

    March 12, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
  6. nsaidi

    Appreciate the thoughtful responses, all. Online comments sometimes get a bad reputation, but I believe the responses you see here are an example of when user feedback can really provide valuable perspective. This coin has many sides.

    March 12, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Micah

    Seatbelts should be standard. I was in a bus crash 3 weeks ago and I could tell you about how much fun it is to watch your friend come almost a foot outta their seat and then slam back down. If you were too flip in a bus you'd just bounce around. Which is much worse than just having to detach a seatbelt to escape.

    March 12, 2012 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
  8. BOMBO ©

    This is so similar to the arguements years ago before most jurisdictions made seatbelt use manditory in regular cars. People can come up with all the rare scenarios they want (cars flipping upside down, bursting into flames, going off a bridge, getting stuck on the edge of a glacier) but in the end it's just excuse making. In practically every standard crash, seatbelts are the way to go.

    March 12, 2012 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jennifer williams

    I think seatbelt should be in all car, truck, vans and a bus. Its the law to have ur seatbelt when driving a car why not on a bus. Law says kids have to be why not on a bus too. Bus driver has a seatbelt why not the kids. In 37 yrs i have never heard of bus going to flames. I have seen 2 bus acsidents and they crashed kids all over the bus. If they had seatbelt they would have sill been in seat and and no one would have died. A car can burst in to flames just like a bus. We trust the schools to take of our kids well its starts with the bus ride to school. Bottom line law is the law everyone should fallow it even the school

    March 13, 2012 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
  10. Robert Tylicki

    The laws of physics apply to cars, trucks, planes, SUVs and buses. They don't care if you are famous, rich, or poor. The laws don't differentiate!

    March 13, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Janice Jeffey

    Do you think you could keep 40 to 60 students buckled in a seat while you are driving a bus. Thank goodness I drive for a school system that has video recording on all our bus. When we have a student that want stay seated in their seats while bus is moving they can be removed from the bus. Our school system rule says all students must remain seated when bus is moving.

    March 13, 2012 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Shari

    II am a bus driver in the mountains of Colorado. The other bus driver was correct, and buses do go up in flames very easily. My concern is the trips and routes we take that are next to the river and lake. If we had seat belts and went into the river, who do I save? With only one adult and one seat belt cutter, who do I leave and who do I save? But even deeper then that, there is the notion that the buses are not safe without the seat belts. Have you seen the videos showing the impact on a child in a bus crash with and without the seat belts? I have. I would rather deal with a bloody, broken nose/arm/leg then whiplash and unable to move the child at that point. Please do your homework before sounding off. I am also a parent. I see the good and the bad. I have done my research. The kids will not stay buckled in. We have buses that are small enough that it is required and guess what... we have discovered the belts are stuffed down in the seats indicating the kids are not staying belted. What good is that? I realize how painful it would be if my child went on a trip and was hurt in a bus accident. There is no easy solution. Just remember, there is one driver, in charge of up to 70 children, with their back to these children, moving several thousand pounds of metal down the road. Would the teachers teach 70 kids in a class by themselves? And you, the public, are requiring it from the bus drivers... Teachers have their education, their learning in their hands. I have the child's life in mine. I have the responsibility of transporting these wonderful children to and from school, as safely as possible. I do the best job I possibly can. Before asking for seat belts, think about the other safety factors involved. Children laughing, yelling, other drivers, the weather, and the bus driver is the only adult in charge. And now schools are cutting training for the bus drivers. Hmm. Seat belts are the least of my worries...

    March 16, 2012 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |