Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Bus Crashes and Seat Belts

oregon bus crash deadman passA bus crash in eastern Oregon just killed 9 people and injured many others, after running off the snowy highway and rolling 200 feet down a steep embankment. It sounds terrifying(*).

Why don't buses have seat belts? The driver of the bus had a seat belt (he survived). What about everyone else? What about school buses?

This article in Business Insider says it's mostly the cost. With high, padded seatbacks close together, riders are consider to be "compartmentalized" (and apparently they don't consider kids able to use seat belts properly - really?). And they're just not cost effective, it reports:
A study done by the Alabama State Department of Education found that it would cost between $32 and $38 million to install seat belts on all the state's [school] buses, while only saving one life....

The federal government only requires seat belts in small buses that weigh less than 10,000 pounds where having a seat belt would affect safety.

The greatest risk isn't riding the bus to school, it's approaching and leaving the bus, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
But what about private buses? Why can't they at least give passengers the option? The cost?

This article says 6 states now require seat belts on school buses.

I know from my own days of riding a school bus -- an hour each way up until grade 9 -- that kids don't sit still on the bus. Or, at least, we were allowed to get away with not sitting still. But adults on a charter bus can sit still.

Now I am going to wonder/worry about this the next time I ride a bus.

(*) I drove through there when I moved to Oregon. It was January, and the only place I encountered snow was the Blue Mountains in eastern Oregon, and it was fairly serious. Coming down out of there to Pendleton -- the area where this bus crashed -- is pretty hairy.


TheTracker said...

What people perhaps don't come out and say baldly is that the mass of the bus is huge -- meaning that ordinary car accidents are likely to involve serious injuries to the people in the other vehicle, not to the passengers on the bus.

This is a nightmare scenario from a lot of perspectives . . . I've driven through Pendleton, they'd be lucky to have two or three paramedics in the entire county. Imagine a mass casualty scene featuring Korean-speaking passengers hours from the nearest trauma center. That's a worst case for emergency responders to an almost unbelievable extent.

DocRichard said...

In the UK seat belts appeared in coaches about 4-5 years ago. Simple lap straps. Crude, but a bruised pelvis is much to be preferred to being thrown around inside a metal and glass structure.

If we snaggle toothed Brits can afford it, you should be able to.