Child Safety: Seat Belts on the School Bus
One of my more vivid first-day-of-school memories is from 1977. I can still feel the weight of my tin Snoopy lunchbox in my hand, and the way I ran my pink pearl eraser under my nose and savored its unique smell during the bumpy school-bus ride as I tried to imagine what first grade would be like.
My kids, on the other hand, have never ridden a yellow school bus (with a single exception). Like every mom I know, I am a staunch advocate of seat belts, booster seats and car seats. To place my kids on a bus with no seat belts has always seemed a ridiculous acquiescence to an outdated piece of machinery that no one seems willing to change. When my oldest children were first old enough to ride a school bus, I didn't think much of it at first. After all, I had ridden one for most of my pre-college school experience and I was just fine, right?
Well, yeah. But the funny thing about the passage of time is that we usually learn from our experiences. If we can get a ticket for not buckling up, even be charged with endangering our child for not placing them in a safety seat, then why do we place them in a vehicle where the only thing keeping them safely in their seat is ... well ... nothing? Advocates for keeping school buses the way they are (and believe me, there are a lot of them) say the high-backed seats in a school bus act as a shield in case of a mild crash. But what about the not-so-mild crashes? What about the roll-overs? What about the fact that every time I'm on a major highway, I see at least one school bus and they're driving at the same speed as the rest of us? How does a high-backed seat protect my children when they crash at 65 miles per hour?
I'm not the first to become angry over this hypocritical way of handling child safety—but as it stands, only four states in this country have legislation on the books mandating seat belt usage on school buses.
Why is that? Why aren't we doing more to protect our children?
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