The large orange-yellow school bus is an iconic symbol of formative years, as almost all children rode on one either to and from school or at the very least, to certain school functions. While a child would not question whether it was the safest mode for them to be transported in, parents cannot help but wonder if they truly are a safe option. With all the distractions that can happen on a bus, are school buses really safer than cars?
As far as outside safety features go, school buses are as safe as they come. Built with reinforced side panels, a bright, recognizable color and even equipped with a stop sign and flashing lights, they are large, safe, well built vehicles.
There has been concern over the years, as seat belts have become standard and even the law in most states, that school buses should also have seat belts. Although smaller buses do come equipped with seat belts, the larger buses do not. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has looked at the issue and has determined that due to the design and the weight of standard school buses, that seatbelts would not improve safety. Impacts to these large vehicles cause much less force to passengers compared to other smaller vehicles and the high energy-absorbing seats that are narrowly spaced provide protection in the case of a crash.
School Bus Drivers
One of the main safety features of a school bus is the person behind the wheel. While the average parent may insist they are excellent drivers, they are unlikely to have went through the type of training and testing that the average school driver goes through. School bus drivers must:
- Pass random drug/alcohol testing
- Receive training in loading, security and medical procedures
- Have frequent driver record checks
- Be trained in student behavior management
Statistics On Safety
An estimated 23 million children ride on a school bus every day and most arrive safely to and from school. In fact, compared to riding in a car, they are much more likely to arrive safe and alive. When fatalities of children of school age who die in a motor vehicle accident during school hours are compared, the far safest mode of transportation is the school bus.
- Only 1% of these fatalities happened while the children were on a school bus.
- 58% of the fatalities were with a teen driver
- 23% were when there was an adult driver
When it comes down to it, school buses seem to be safer than cars when it comes to transporting children to and from school. They also take millions of cars off the roads near school areas, save money for families and are better for the environment. What can be better than that?