Seatbelts on School Buses

By: Beth Shayne
By: Beth Shayne

Dr. Alan Ross, president of the National Coalition for School Bus Safety says the Lake Odessa incident is more proof all buses should have seatbelts.

"An unrestrained child is a missile, a projectile," he says, calling seatbelts on buses "common sense."

The conventional wisdom though, says Alan Ross and his organization may not be right. None of mid-Michigan’s full-size buses have belts because a federal study says they do more harm than good.

Nathan Rowen, transportation director for the Lansing School district, explains that head and neck injuries can be made worse by lap restraints. He says belts would make it more difficult to exit in an emergency, and that the buses are designed to protect kids with padded seats and padded sides instead.

Dr. Ross calls those theories propaganda. He cites endorsements from the American Medical Association and others who support seatbelts on school buses.

The National Highway Traffic Safety study conducted in 2002 says lap restraints are dangerous, but it too admits a three point shoulder strap could be helpful in preventing injuries.

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