Idaho School Buses: the gold standard in transportation safety?
When it comes to keeping Idaho kids safe on the road, we're often told school buses are the gold standard. This is because school buses are designed with a primary safety feature known as "compartmentalization," involving closely spaced seats and energy-absorbing seat backs.
While statistically proven to be effective, recent findings from the National Transportation Safety Board (sited by the National Conference of State Legislatures) have identified limitations in the compartmentalization design, namely in lateral impacts with large vehicles and rollovers.
In such cases, students may not remain entirely within the seating compartment, exposing them to potential injuries.
Will Idaho upgrade school bus safety measures?
In light of the NTSB's research, why aren't we making the case for seat belts to be installed on Idaho school buses?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an average of six students a year die in school bus accidents. While notably lower than the broader statistics for national child fatalities in car crashes, CDC data sources a lack of seat belts as the root cause in those.
In 2021, 711 child passengers ages 12 and younger were killed in motor vehicle crashes in the United States,1 and in 2020 more than 63,000 were injured.2 Of the children who were killed in a crash, 36%† were not buckled up.
Moreover, the American School Bus Council reports that school buses transport over 25 million children annually, representing approximately 50% of K-12 students. Nationally, school buses cover around 5.7 billion miles a year.
Idaho children are worth it.
Why not incorporate seat belts into school bus designs if it enhances the safety of one of Idaho's most popular mode of student transportation? As parents ourselves, we believe the loss of any child's life warrants intense concern and proactive measures regardless of cost.
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